Economic parody

The cost of doing nothing is sending the country broke if we are to believe the fright stats peddled by the City of Sydney council, I write in The Australian today.

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Illustration: Eric Lobbecke, The Australian

“Physical inactivity is a major killer,” chides the council in a news release. “It costs the nation almost $135 billion a year.”

Fiscally retentive readers will have noticed already what an improbable figure that is. It is almost three times larger than the commonwealth’s 2015-16 health budget or, to put it another way, roughly 8 per cent of gross domestic product.

The good news about fright stats, however, is that they seldom turn out to be true. Fright stats are not empirical measures of the world as it is but blunt instruments fashioned to fight noble causes, in this case Lord Mayor Clover Moore’s plan to tear up Sydney’s arteries of commerce and make everyone ride bikes.

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