Thankfully, we’re getting much closer to a return to normality with the international border reopening. While we should focus on the brighter future, at the same time we should rigorously review what happened over the last two years, and ask whether, in our authoritarian ends-justify-the-means response, we succumbed to The Great COVID Panic, as Gigi Foster and her co-authors call it in their latest book. Gigi is currently in Brisbane to present her views to the Australian Institute for Progress on Friday evening, 11 February. You can pick up tickets via the Eventbrite page The Great COVID Panic: What Happened, Why, and What To Do.
I spoke briefly about Australia’s COVID experience with Larry Reed, the President Emeritus of the Foundation for Economic Education, toward the end of my latest podcast episode Price controls to fight inflation a bad idea + infrastructure lessons from POTUS 21. The bulk of our discussion was on price controls (i.e. regulating that businesses can only increase prices by x% over a period), which some commentators have suggested as a way to control accelerating inflation in advanced economies. As Larry explains in the episode, price controls would be a really bad idea, resulting in shortages, and wouldn’t solve the underlying problem. Inflation after all is a monetary phenomenon and, in my view, requires a monetary policy response. The big test this year for our Reserve Bank is how rapidly it responds to growing inflationary pressures. There is a risk it doesn’t act quickly enough and inflation accelerates even further.
In addition to COVID and price controls, Larry and I chatted about the recent controversial statements from US personal finance guru Dave Ramsey, who said he wouldn’t feel like a bad Christian if he increased the rent on an investment property to the market rate and doing so forced a poor tenant to move out. Check out a clip of Larry’s response in which he cites the parable of the vineyard workers:
Here’s another clip in which Larry explains why it would be good if he could put President Biden and the 21st President Chester A. Arthur in a room together to discuss infrastructure.
Finally, here’s another clip, this one focussing on what we can learn about economic prosperity from San Marino and Genoa.
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Panic? What Panic? We held up COVID until we could get enough people with immunity. Otherwise our hospitals would have been overwhelmed …like some third world country! These people would sell their grandmothers, if they thought they could make a profit! Just the same way they would have left the elderly to their own resources when COVID first hit. Stay open… Granny had a good life! Just a step away from Fascism and saying that Democracy no longer serves Commerce. Survival of the fittest forever with these people. No soul and no humanity… replaced by profit.