Thursday 16 April 2020

"Plan B" - Pitching The Devil's Bargain To Generation X.

Have I Got A Deal For You! Ah, yes, the Devil’s Bargain. Transacted in all manner of guises, but always with the same intent: the transformation of the human individual from an “end” into a “means”.

THE SPEED at which the ruling elite has moved to defend itself has been surprisingly slow. It should have been clear from the first onset of the Covid-19 crisis that it was capable to wreaking havoc upon the political-economy of the global status quo. Its first defensive moves were, however, politically clumsy and morally grotesque. Expecting grandparents to make the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of their grandchildren, as the more outlandish members of the American Right advocated, struck most people as horrific. Clearly, a more nuanced solution was required.

Accordingly, the key demographic target of neoliberal capitalism’s defenders shifted from the elderly Baby Boomers (1946-1965) to the notoriously prickly Generation X (1966-1985). This is, after all, the demographic which has made intergenerational injustice its special study. To hear Gen-Xers tell the story, the Boomers managed to get through most of their lives without experiencing much more than a few relatively mild recessions. Admittedly, the American Boomers had the Vietnam War to contend with (and doesn’t it show!) but New Zealand’s Boomers cruised blissfully through the post-war sunshine with the barely a trouble in the world.

Generation X’s bad luck was clear to comedians and cartoonists from the get-go. One of the best of their early jokes depicted a Boomer wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the classic Seventies formula for happiness: Sex. Drugs. Rock&Roll. His Gen-X companion’s T-shirt was less upbeat. Its three words referenced the grim Eighties’ declension of the Boomer’s hedonistic trinity: Aids. Crack. Punk&Rap.

No sooner was all the fun taken out of promiscuity, recreational drug-taking and popular music, than the unlucky Gen-Xers were hit by the full force of the neoliberal revolution. All the benefits of the social-democratic state – enjoyed to the full by their fortunate parents – were whipped away from them. Indebted, de-unionised, unhoused: life wasn’t so much a bowl of cherries, as a plateful of fleshless cherry-stones.

Was the arrival of the Internet and the smartphone sufficient compensation for the Global Financial Crisis and the onrush of Climate Change? Maybe. Even so, for too many of the years they have been alive, the news has made pretty grim reading for Generations X, Y and Z. And now, as if all of the above trials and tribulations weren’t enough, the world’s under-55s find themselves in the midst of a global pandemic.

Where’s the justice in that?

Although the academic Judas Sheep promoting their evidentially-challenged and scientifically tendentious “Plan B” (essentially a plea for pursuing ‘herd immunity’ from Covid-19) don’t make it explicit, they presumably see an element of divine justice in the virus’s preference for older people’s vulnerable immune systems. Their own generation and their children’s are much less likely to die from Covid-19 than Mum and Dad and/or Grandma and Grandpa. It’s almost as if God has finally relented and thrown these younger generations a chunk of good luck.

But, has he?

The dissident academics’ preference is for science, not theology, so expecting them to spot the profound moral challenge which the Almighty has just set down on the younger generations’ plate is probably too tall an order. It lies there, nonetheless, and all of these scientists’ crude consequentialist philosophising cannot remove it.

They do their best to ignore it, however, by reaching for the utilitarian philosopher’s substitute for God: “The greatest good for the greatest number.” It’s a formula that has always appealed to the kind of hard-line, ideologically-driven capitalists who presumably recruited these (to borrow Lenin’s trenchant epithet) “useful idiots”. Certainly, the individuals fronting “Plan B” all possess a facility for fine calculation to make a bean-counter proud. 

Which should be accorded more value, these ethical accountants now demand: The right to life of the elderly and the chronically ill – a quarter of the population; or, the right to a prosperous economic future of the other three-quarters? The contention being, that a point will surely be reached in the course of the current crisis when protecting the rights of both fractions becomes impossible. It is then that the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, and her ministers will be required to answer the very hardest of questions.

In the words of the Plan-B-Boys’ advance guardsman, Matthew Hooton, opining in the NZ Herald of Saturday, 4 April 2020:

“The first unbearable question is at what point, if ever, we decide that the immediate social and economic costs are too high to continue with a lockdown, if elimination or suppression fail. The second is who pays those costs, and when.”

Hard? Oh yes – and it only gets worse:

“Ardern and all of us have no choice but to take [the] risks [flowing from the harms attendant upon catastrophic economic collapse] into account while grappling with the ethics of the decisions ahead. It may be repulsive to express it explicitly, but a protracted suppression strategy would materially and perhaps permanently damage the lives of the two million New Zealanders under the age of 30 to briefly maintain the life expectancy of some thousands of people in their 80s.”

Or, rephrasing Hooton’s argument even more repulsively: At what point do we let Grandpa die, so that we, his grandchildren, can have a crack at the sort of life our grandparents and parents were able to live?

Ah, yes, the Devil’s Bargain. Transacted in all manner of guises, but always with the same intent: the transformation of the human individual from an “end” into a “means”. Here’s how the nineteenth century Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky presents the Devil’s Bargain in The Brothers Karamazov, when Ivan confronts his brother, Alyosha, with the classic utilitarian dilemma:

Tell me straight out, I call on you—answer me: imagine that you yourself are building the edifice of human destiny with the object of making people happy in the finale, of giving them peace and rest at last, but for that you must inevitably and unavoidably torture just one tiny creature, and raise your edifice on the foundation of her unrequited tears — would you agree to be the architect on such conditions? . . . And can you admit the idea that the people for whom you are building would agree to accept their happiness on the unjustified blood of a tortured child, and having accepted it, to remain forever happy?

What Dostoyevsky grasps here is what always slips through the fingers of the crude utilitarians. Happiness cannot be created out of unhappiness. Life cannot be purchased with Death. Another great Russian novelist, and dissident, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, grasped it also. When the young pacifists of the Eighties put it to him that if the choice was between Communism and nuclear annihilation, then surely it was better to be Red than dead? His answer was always the same: “No. Better to be dead than to live as a scoundrel!”

And, if memory serves, there was another seeker after the truth who had something to say about the Devil’s Bargain. A carpenter and teacher from Nazareth, in First Century Galilee. His words may be old, but even after two thousand years they bear repeating:

“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, but lose his soul?”

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Thursday, 16 April 2020.


Geoff Fischer said...

God has given us all (not just one generation or another) the opportunity to choose whether in this time we shall be our brother's keeper.
Shall we act to save our kuia and kaumatua even at great cost to ourselves?
If the answer is "Yes, we shall" then in years to come those of us who still live will be able to say to ourselves "We did right, and now we are content to meet our Maker".
If the answer is "No" we will be condemning ourselves to a hell of shame, regret, recrimination and retribution.
There is no choice.

Kat said...

What Hooton, Hosking, Soper and others of their ilk are promoting is doubt. They are contracted to spread the seeds of dissension. They offer no solutions. We should know the names of who they represent.

Tom Hunter said...

At what point do we let Grandpa die,...

A decision made every day in our rationed helath care system. An old neighbour of ours died in January at the age of 94 as a whole bunhc of little things - a hairline fracture there, a slight liquid buildup in the lungs there - gathered pace.

She was moved from her home to Auckland hospital to a nearby hospice where she finally died, drugged up to the eyeballs to try and relieve the pain. She still had her mental faculties almost to the end though and was well aware that while heroic efforts might be made to save her, it was just not worth the cost in resources of drugs, surgery, and so forth.

She was sent there to die and she knew it. We all knew it.

But nobody felt the system was being cruel and uncaring. That's just the reality of costs and benefits built into our healthcare system, which is not protected from that cold human reality by being "public" and "free". It's not really about money, that's just what we use to count resources and since resources are not unlimited the health care system is bound by them as well.

So while the shroud-waving screams of "You'll let old people die just to make a buck" have worked now they're a deliberate dismissal of that everyday reality - and they're not going to work very well in six months time when the mass misery of poverty stalks the land.

Tom Hunter said...

Oh - and one more thing. While I'm Gen X - technically Boomer but with entirely Gen X coming-of-age experiences - and not that down on the Boomers, my kids are quite another story.

They hate them and that hate circulates on media platforms largely unknown to most of us. The term "Boomer Remover" was not coined by some neo-liberal boogieman but by the kids themselves - and it's far from being the meanest one out there.

On the flipside it does mean that a politcian arguing for new taxes designed to redistribute the wealth from Boomers to post GenX generations will likely find increasing traction. Good news for the future Left.

Anonymous said...

@Geoff Fischer "There is no choice." unless you're a rabid right wing trolling National supporter
"All of the above surely begs the question “Is the cure worse than the disease?” I would argue that that may well be the case. Today two more deaths were announced, one of them a 94 year old man, and another person in their 80’s. All four deceased were in their 70’s or older. All four certainly died with, if not of, Covid-19. I mean no disrespect to the families of the deceased, nor do I wish to sound uncaring, when noting that at 94, every day one wakes up in the morning is surely a bonus. "

Wayne Mapp said...

Very nicely written. One of your best.

But of course not it is quite as simple as you propose. No-one would crash the entire economy to save one life. Or to put it another way. We have a 100kph speed limit even though we know speed kills. But we can readily predict how many people will potentially die. And we are prepared to accept that.

The difference with Covid, is that we don't know the full potential for disaster. Level 4 could save tens of thousands of lives. And even if they are mostly older people, their lives are worth saving. The level of risk, and the level of uncertainty, makes the current measures fully justifiable. But Australia has also made a reasonable judgement, being closer to Level 3.

However, I would say too many people have died in Sweden, and this could have been foreseen. They should have gone to a higher level of restriction.

David George said...

What say do we have in this question; we've, for better or worse, outsourced our moral imperative to government. Perhaps that's the real bargain with the devil. No say, no blame, no consequences, no God and no meaning either.

Having said that I don't know that it's such a good idea to get this tangled up with political ideology. The strongest supporters of the right to life, if the abortion and euthanasia issues are any indication, tend to be from the conservative side of the spectrum, the Greens don't even seem know what the sanctity of life means - well as far as human life is concerned anyway.

If you genuinely want to confront the really hard questions here is a must read essay on the strategy and human life.
Closing summary:

In giving these papers some coverage I am not myself advancing any particular policy view. I have more questions than answers – in part because of the continued refusal of the government to make core pieces of analysis and advice public, and instead to fling around numbers that others have generated but that don’t seem to stand up to much scrutiny (and in some cases are not public at all). As I noted the other day, at a visceral level (rather than an analytical one) I am somewhat uneasy about the rush towards easing restrictions, and I’m not sure 20 cases a day (that the authorities know of) is yet that reassuring. But, equally, the costs of the path the government has taken to date have also been very high – and those costs are not just economic in nature (if anything I worry that all the pressure building to ease restrictions is economic in nature, and little at all about families, civil society, and so on.)

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Funny, as a baby boomer I remember the 80s. I just bought my first house and I was paying 11% on my first mortgage and 18% on my second. It's not just us who have bought up the housing stock so my son can't afford to buy one despite his savings. I know plenty of generation Xers who have more than one house – I certainly don't.
I escaped the '87 crash simply because I had no money to invest, but I had friends who'd taken Bob Jones's "advice" that you could certainly do better with your superannuation money than the government superannuation fund. That clipped a few wings.
I also remember the demise of the managed funds, where I lost a measurable proportion of my net wealth stemming from my redundancy money. I remember the generation Xers who were giving out financial advice and suggesting that certain funds were bombproof. No they weren't.:)
Funny also that I was castigated for suggesting that perhaps the National party wouldn't have reacted quite so quickly and quite so radically as labour, given that them and their supporters are now agitating for an early return to normality.

greywarbler said...

I find it extraordinary that the WHO director should state that old people should stay in lockdown for a year. That is what I thought he said but I find it very hard to quickly access his statements to the media in full.
What is happening with this disease I think is that it quickly picks off the most vulnerable. Those 80 years and over are on borrowed time, with bodies that are no longer in good working order. Why the huge fuss that they are dying - they reached their departure point some time ago and have been camped out waiting for the signal that their transport is arriving.
They may not see it as a transport of delight, but it doesn't need to be unpleasant. We must make sure it does not become the equivalent of a train journey in a cattle carriage in WW2.

We should have hospital rooms set up so that relations can visit, see and talk with glass between them. The aged Covid-19 cases should have their old bodies looked after by dedicated nurses, who themselves are properly looked after!

Intelligent, caring and real - when we are old we die, and we have been lucky to have had a long life and probably had much care lavished on us during that life. Then to have that continued as we are at the last stages is something to be so grateful for. Why not be grateful for it, and resigned to following nature's way and that we got born at all - we forget it is a sort of miracle.

But some are selecting out the over 60's! That's taking a wide sweep.
Is a person of that age going to have their ID card demanded, and be refused entry 'You shall not pass'? It is the 80's and up that are the biggest problem. Look after them properly in their rest homes, not blaming private business because it can't handle the type of care that a virus spread demands particularly this unprecedented virus.

Don't try and lock us oldies away, but encourage us to be careful with all the good advice given. And remember that most oldies are careful to keep to the rules; tell them not to leave home and they are likely to be afraid to go to the mailbox. And something that you in government can do is to facilitate euthanasia for those over 70, after going through a precise set of rules, drawn up in co-operation with the organisations that people have set up for themselves to facilitate the option of Managed Demise. Now is the time for government to carefully guide this through and ignore the organised chants of groups who believe that suffering in this world stands you in good stead for the next.

And another aspect is that the negatively vociferous have been taught to obey authority and rarely think for themselves; to not be assertive on others' behalf altruistically, only occasionally for their own purposes. Feeling empathy for others, seeing other points of view differing from the settled authority provokes hostility in the conformist, the self-centred individual, the timid, and the response "Who do you think you are"?

Geoff Fischer said...

Tom Hunter:
There is a huge difference between a doctor who moves a patient to palliative care in the patient's own interests and with consent, and a state which decides to abandon a whole class of its population to the ravages of disease simply because they are deemed to be an economic liability.
The "mass misery of poverty" will not be seen in our rohe, regardless of whether the New Zealand government holds its course towards "Elimination" or abandons the fight in response to those who would rather preserve their own excess wealth than save the lives of their fellow citizens.
Right now we are working in very practical ways to ensure that neither misery nor poverty intrude upon our people. We have ample resources, and a determination to share those resources fairly and with generosity.
If the New Zealand government is not determined to save colonial capitalism at all costs (something which will be made clear this coming Monday), then the same will be true for those in all other parts of the motu.

Ian said...

Not many of us have to deal with decisions in the normal course of events that are starkly the "Devil’s Bargain" as you put it. We are lucky. But governments and lawmakers make those decisions on behalf of us (as Wayne Mapp pointed out), and some people (such as Italian doctors in an overstretched health system choosing who to treat, relatives of the braindead or pregnant women thinking about an abortion) do it on a more personal level.

We may not like the idea of choosing that someone should die that someone else has a better life. But that doesn't mean that it is always the wrong choice. Or that our hands are clean of such choices at one remove. For once every 3 years when we vote, we are choosing who to delegate some of those decisions to. Though we tend not to think of it that way.

If it is wrong that someone should die that someone else has a better life, then not only is the 100kph speed limit wrong but sending soldiers to war is wrong. Especially someone else's war (as NZ is very fond of doing -- in a week's time we will be remembering our part in the invasion of the Ottoman Empire in a war where lives in NZ were not at risk).

There is an unrealistic idealism to the idea that happiness cannot be created out of unhappiness. It often is -- compare the lives of the 1%ers with those of the hoi polloi, the Boomers with Millenials, the First World with the Third World. Similarly, that Life cannot be purchased with Death -- isn't that what made WW II the "Good War"? In fact the justification for war in general. And for the Christians out there, isn't purchasing Life with Death what Easter was all about, metaphorically?

Utilitarianism gets a bad rap from people who want to avoid those decisions that are the "Devil's Bargain". Let's not forget that these sort of decisions are not limited to ones around death. Any decision where some benefit at someone else's expense are part of the same spectrum of decisions. Personally being able to make those sort of decisions in a rational and explicit way is part of being a good human, even if it makes us feel uncomfortable. Avoiding those decisions, or trying to rephrase them into a way that hides their true nature is more cowardly.

greywarbler said...

...a state which decides to abandon a whole class of its population to the ravages of disease simply because they are deemed to be an economic liability.

Maori lived for the best part of one thousand years in NZ and had to form their own laws to suit their situation. In that they were bound by nature and growing and obtaining of food. Those were economic decisions.
Don't label decisions by today's government as necessarily different from what Maori have always done. It is noticeable though that Maori die earlier than pakeha, and have worse health. I find that some Maori are caught between the two ways, earlier natural, organic ways and modern ones that are supposed to result in an improved society, and constant change of ways of living that nothing to do with living naturally.

Living to ever older ages because of greater knowledge of body processes and technology has come to be expected today. This is happening at the same time that people in touch with the real planet and nature say that we are gone beyond what nature can handle. It is time for old people to be prepared to die but be cared for as they do. That they are not prepared for this is because we are caught between the technological modern world which is what we know, and the older world of living lives to the full and then dying which was the norm. This is an act of recognising they belong to society, have had their life, and accept that it has reached a natural end.

It is a necessary part of the circle of life which is not open-ended. But your point is true, that as a necessary part of humanity we should be well cared for in body and spirit, not abandoned, as our bodies finally break down and our hearts give up. It is right for us to be prepared to die, and it is right for us to want to be cared for in life, though not have it prolonged beyond our span. We have been living for so long without having a serious pandemic: we now have to face that our expectations have to change.

This story from Italy Mar.17/20 is indicative of all the news and information we have had. Don't blast the government for trying to come to terms with the situation and do the best they can for all of us.

This is the USA where they have found new veins of callousness and crassness in their bodies. A scientific breakthrough!
Trump told reporters during an evening press conference that while the death toll is “bad,” and “the numbers are going to increase with time,” we’re “going to be opening our country up for business, because our country was meant to be open.“

“The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The work of life is to develop it. The meaning of life is to give your gift away.”
— David Viscott
This was said by a USA psychiatrist who could think well and help others, but died in his 60s in poor health after a marriage break-up. So there aren't any pat answers to life, age and dying but I think my idea of accepting death without prolonging, when over 80 would be a fitting and mature approach after all those years of life. If you haven't had a full life, what have you been doing all that time, is a question that arises?

Geoff Fischer said...

There is a great deal of moral confusion surrounding Covid-19, which is not surprising in light of the damage that a half century of secularism and neo-liberalism has inflicted upon New Zealand society's capacity for moral judgement.
In lieu of philosophers and theologians or ministers of religion New Zealand now has economists and politicians advancing moral hypotheses on the basis of which they suggest society should act.
Unfortunately many of those who are given space in the New Zealand media to pontificate on the moral aspects of the crisis are quite unqualified to do so.
I am not suggesting that one needs some kind of formal qualifications or institutional standing in order to arrive at and express a valid opinion.
Rather I am saying that one has to think deeply about the nature of moral conduct, and knowledge of economics or an interest in the the exigencies of electoral politics is no substitute.
Many spurious analogies are being made. For example the claim that allowing Covid-19 to run unchecked is rather like taking a consenting terminally ill patient off life support. Or allowing a road speed limit of 100kph when 5kph might be the only "safe" speed limit.
People rightly point out that we can never be perfectly safe, and that we are all going to die sooner or later.
Yet those truisms miss the point.
The moral question around Covid-19 is not about what is "safe" and it is not about whether or when certain people will likely die.
The question is simply whether it is right to put or leave other people in harm's way.
Most of us would answer "No", while others would answer "No, but...".
The "but" leads us to the second question which is "How far need one go to keep another out of harm's way?"
That question is impossible to answer with humility, except by pointing to the actions of others.
Christ gave his life for the sake of humanity. The martyrs of faith and the heroes of popular liberation struggles did the same. So the answer is there in our history. Those who believe in the rangatiratanga of Ihoa o nga mano, those who truly value their own humanity, will sacrifice all they have, including life itself to keep others from harm.
If we are not the Christ, if we are neither heroes nor martyrs, then we will stop short of making the ultimate sacrifice. But how far short? I have suggested that if New Zealanders make the wrong decision here, they will be condemning themselves to a collective hell of shame, regret and recrimination.
It is true that in Christian theology the Christ purchased life (redemption or salvation) through his own death. But no one can purchase eternal life and happiness for themselves or for anyone else by choosing to let others die.
Think of the Governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate, who decided that one innocent man, Jesus the Nazarene, should die so that Judea might remain a well-ordered and productive province of imperial Rome. Pilate was a utilitarian, a pragmatist and a student of realpolitik, as is Matthew Hooton. But his only legacy to humanity was as a negative example.
Come Monday will Jacinda Ardern and Grant Robertson follow the logic of Pontius Pilate and Matthew Hooton?
Or will they call upon the nation to continue in the sacrifices which are necessary to keep safe our kuia and kaumatua, rangatahi and tamariki?

greywarbler said...

Geoff Fischer
How long do you want elderly to live so that you put on hold every necessary action to provide for the young and the planet to live? Because that thinking doesn't just stop at Covid-19. The plain facts are that we have to change our expectations. Another change has to be made and that is that Maori have to receive better health services, and also Maori have to take responsibility for keeping themselves healthy.
Maori must insist on being given the services that their medical leaders tell them they need. The elderly among Maori can put their efforts to this and be even more venerated than they are already.

I am constantly surprised how many Maori are not willing to think for themselves and act to better themselves, to take hold of opportunities that they can access. Just to keep on keeping on, then feeling left behind. I felt so positive when I heard this on Radionz:
This and other young Maori are trying to move upwards, acting as individuals, but keeping close to hapu if whanau are not able to rise from their norm.

Sociologically I often think back to Thomas Belmonte and his work written about the ingrained habits of a small pocket of poor people in Naples.
They couldn't step outside of their self-imposed 'bubble' and so few changes for the better could be made.

Also I see Alan Duff as a hero struggling to find how to be Maori in a hegemonic European capitalist world. He is a hero, tackling head on and getting bruised, in his quest. He has written many books, and I suggest that people read them to follow where he has gone, and his experiences and adventures, good and bad. And remember that he organised a plan to get books into children's hands - I think it is about a million distributed or some amazing number. Change must happen, let us try to make it in the right direction - as an old person concerned for the young, if I see that happen I will die happy.

Geoff Fischer said...

In our extended bubble we have four generations of one whanau. If you were to say to the moko "Your nan has to go away so that when you grow up you can have a nice house and a car" she would say "I don't care about a house. I want my nan".
Te ao maori (the lower case "m" is intentional) never sees one generation as privileged over another. They are all loved and needed. Mokopuna, tamaraki, rangatahi, matua, koro and kuia live together as an organic whole, as whanau.
The idea of division between genders and generations comes from capitalism, a system which is predicated on the concept of competition and to that end constantly seeks to find, exploit and if necessary create conflict between people.
New Zealand capitalism has thrived on conflict between Maori and Pakeha, migrant and resident, male and female, and now between young and old.
The advocates of "Plan B" plead the need for generational equity. But killing off our kaumatua and kuia will not put an end to inequity. Killing off capitalism just might.
Think about this as you spend billions of dollars in an effort to save capitalism from the wrath of God.
Is it really worth saving?
Having said that, Jacinda evidently believes that she can save both capitalism and our kaumatua. That is a bargain that we can live with. The other, which Chris calls the Devil's bargain, we cannot accept.

Ian said...

Geoff Fischer, "The question is simply whether it is right to put or leave other people in harm's way". So if we accept the conclusion that it is wrong to put others in harm's way and if you accept that NZTA is correct (namely driving fast puts others in harm's way) then the analogy is not false. A 100kph speed limit does put others in harm's way. It is an obvious moral conclusion that you inexplicably overlooked.

We all have something we want to protect. Whether it is our "right" to drive at 100 kph, or our jobs or our businesses or not wanting to make hard decisions. And we are willing to turn a blind eye to logic to protect those things that are important to us.

Geoff Fischer said...

It is possible to drive safely at 100kph. In the context of vehicle warranting, driver licensing and other laws relating to careless or dangerous driving, the 100kph speed limit in itself exposes no one to danger. No one should die as a result. That is a common sense conclusion.
If Covid-19 is allowed to run its course unimpeded, then large numbers of people will die (up to 50,000 in New Zealand) regardless of the presence of a highly functioning health care system. That is also a common sense conclusion (though some still seem to question it).
If we are not careful, the application of pure "logic" can lead us to pretty silly conclusions. Such as that if we allow people to drive at 100kph then we should allow a lethal epidemic to sweep through the entire population.
I am not going to buy that.
You could make a stronger case by arguing that "If we are going to do nothing about climate change, then we should do nothing about Covid-19", but of course I would respond by saying "If you can act to suppress Covid-19, then you should act to mitigate climate change". It is just a question of what makes good sense.

Ian said...

Geoff Fischer, we will have to agree to disagree on the dangers to other people of speeding drivers. If the only people killed in accidents were the drivers who were driving carelessly or dangerously you'd be correct and we'd need no speed limit at all. But that is patently untrue. Dangerous and careless drivers kill other people in their car and of course other road users. Perfect humans who always make the right driving decision 100% of the time are as rare as "he who is without sin". Additionally, fatal crashes are caused by other things that just careless and dangerous driving. So I'll continue to agree with the Police, NZTA, the NZ Parliament and emergency responders and doctors who deal with crash victims, speed limits are important. But you have just made my point: we all have something we want to turn a blind eye to. For you, it is the causes and consequence of road accidents.

I agree that your idea of "pure" logic can lead you to pretty silly conclusions.

The other half of your argument about "If Covid-19 is allowed to run its course unimpeded" is nothing to do with me as I have never argued that.

There are a lot of possible responses to Covid-19. For instance, the Spanish government has just relaxed a lockdown that was more severe than NZ's Level 4, including no outdoor exercise. The NZ government has chosen a less restrictive lockdown with its Level 4. The Australian governments is less even less restrictive than NZ. The response to Covid-19 isn't a binary decision between Level 4 and nothing. There are lots of possible responses, which are all trade-offs.