Flat White

Q&A’s selective moral outrage

31 July 2020

8:55 PM

31 July 2020

8:55 PM

This Monday on the(ir) ABC’s not so popular Q & A program (it rarely if ever rates in the top 20 programs for the evening across all channels) we had the unsurprising spectacle of the pile on that now forms the basis of the programs modus operandi on a weekly basis. The basic formula applied by the program is to stack the panel with an echo chamber of like-minded leftist elites that champion the program’s editorial line as prompted by host Hamish Macdonald, then throw the one token dissenting voice that is invited on to the wolves. It is a modern-day equivalent of Caligula feeding slaves to the beasts in large arenas for public entertainment. 

This week it was prominent lockdown sceptic and economist Associate Professor Gigi Foster’s turn to be led shackled into the bear pit of ABC groupthink. Foster’s crime was to question the blinkered and near monomaniacal obsession with COVID-19 deaths and the associated lockdown measures which seek to kerb them with the flow-on effects of such measures and the harm and inevitable deaths that they will cause. Foster pointed to Sweden as a nation that has sought to take a more balanced path in respect to managing these competing interests. This according to host MacDonald was a ‘heartless’ moral outrage.  

MacDonald countered that Sweden had experienced 5697 deaths due to COVID-19, to which Foster responded that this figure was now asymptote, as it is in many countries that have experienced a significant first wave of infections. Macdonald then claimed that there had been no economic trade-off for Sweden with its GDP down 7% and unemployment at 9% as of May 2020. True to ABC form these numbers were either utterly misleading or without context. The GDP decline of 7% that Macdonald quotes is a worse case projection.


The actual statistics from Sweden’s own Office of Statistics is that the nations GDP rose 0.4% seasonally adjusted in the first quarter of 2020(March) and second-quarter figures are, as of yet, to be finalised. In regards to unemployment, while the 9% figure as of May 2020 is correct it was sitting at 7.5% in January 2020 before the pandemic struck, so an increase of 1.5%.

Comparing this with Australia, our March 2020 GDP figure was a decline of 0.3% and unemployment has risen from 5.2% in January 2020 to 7.4% in May 2020. However, even as the Treasurer and Prime Minister are keen to point out the effective unemployment rate in Australia sits above 11% when those on JobKeeper with zero hours work are taken into account. Australia’s effective unemployment rate has more than doubled, something Sweden is not even close to achieving in response to the Pandemic. Sweden’s death toll due to COVID-19 has fallen dramatically, Australia’s is rising dramatically under a lockdown regime. 

As to the ‘heartless’ moral outrage, Macdonald was quick to pin on Foster, one can only shake one’s head at how selective Macdonald’s moral compass really is. Macdonald tried to browbeat Foster with these statistics: ‘In Victoria today, there were a further 6 deaths, there are tonight 44 people in ICU, there are 245 people in hospital, this is just heartless isn’t it? Why are you advocating for them to die? 

So let’s extend Macdonald’s logic a little further. Each year in Australia approximately 1200 Australians die in road accidents and many thousands are maimed and permanently injured. However. I’m yet to hear Macdonald advocate for the complete shutdown of road transport. So why, Hamish, are you advocating for them to die? Each year in Australia approximately 13 000 die due to the largely preventable chronic disease of type 2 diabetes. However, I’m yet to hear Macdonald advocate for nanny-state control for every item of food every individual consumes. So why, Hamish are you advocating for them to die? Each year approximately 160 000 Australians die from all causes. Every week MacDonald has a national radio and television platform paid for by taxpayers to acknowledge each and every one of them and advocate for strict government control against all cause death, yet he fails to do so. So why, Hamish, are you advocating for these 160 000 people to die?

Yes, indeed. Macdonald’s moral rectitude is very selective indeed, because as we all know a life lost to COVID-19 is so much more precious than one lost to any other cause of death such as lockdown induced suicide. Like all ideology from the left the moral dimension is, in fact, the practised art form of rank hypocrisy and a sanctimonious moral fraud.  

(If you are interested in a recent interview with the architect of Sweden’s approach to COVID-19, Anders Tegnell, then you can catch it here.) 

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