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  • Eugene McGarrell

Corona virus, a nudge for the world to reboot?



The ramblings of a social distancing working from home idealist


The world economy is on the verge of collapse due in some part, but not solely, to the Corona virus pandemic. We have a least another 6 months of disruption ahead of us before the we can start thinking about going back to the way we used to live. But will the world be the same again?


In the main our world has become a neo-liberal wonderland which in the main has supported the rich to get richer while the rest of us go to work on the promise of future riches.


In the 1960s and 1970s it was usual for one parent to work and the other to stay home and care for the kids. Women’s lib fought for the right of women to work, foster a career and earn. But instead of us men taking the opportunity to stand back and share the parental and earning responsibilities, we just decided to join the rat race together.

In the main our world has become a neo-liberal wonderland which in the main has supported the rich to get richer while the rest of us go to work on the promise of future riches.

With both parents working we had more money coming in the door. Good news? Not at all.

The extra income significantly raised house prices and the cost of living so that is now unfeasible to live on one parents’ earnings. Bigger mortgages and larger debts keep us captured within our golden cages.


The childcare sector is booming with the help of government subsidies designed specifically to keep both parents working. Our children are warehoused so that we can pursue a career, a career that for most of us is unlikely to exist in 10 years’ time due to automation.


Our children are warehoused so that we can pursue a career...

But to retire with a pension that will maintain a quality of life we need to continue work. The "protestant work ethic" narrative that fueled the industrial revolution continues to drive our motivation to commute 2 hours a day.


The State pension is nowhere near enough to maintain our expected quality of life for 20 years. We are living longer and there are more of us. Therefore the cost of our retirement is too expensive. So, governments have put in place a superannuation system linked to the performance of the stock market on the assumption that economic growth is never ending.


Our obsession with prioritising a growing economy above and beyond the environment, social cohesion and our health is now firmly secured. A strong stock market and growing economy means we will get a reasonable pension, so we continue to vote in governments that prioritise the economy above all else. Yet we know (and choose to ignore) that a strong neo-liberal economy is creating a bigger gap between the super-rich and the rest of us.

...a strong neo-liberal economy is creating a bigger gap between the super-rich and the rest of us.

But a strong economy should mean an increase in tax revenue. Well not if governments continue to reduce taxation and avoid collecting taxes from multi-nationals (to stimulate the economy).


And then of course our education system means we put our young people in significant debt by the time they are 21. They are already trapped in the rat race.

You may say I am a socialist or a “loonie leftie” and you might be right. But does that mean we can't improve our system?


You may say I am a socialist or a “loonie leftie” and you might be right.

The disruption to the current economic system will hit hard. There will be other pandemics that will hit just as hard unless we change the way we set up our economic system. The economic stimulus announced and the economic stimulus packages that will be announced will do very little to prevent a recession and maybe even a global depression. We are not immune to a significant failure in the global economy.


But what if we redesigned our economy? What if we chose to forgive all debt and start again? Sure, the institutions making money from debt may fall over, but would the world end?


We are not immune to a significant failure in the global economy.

What if we set up a Universal Basic Income (UBI) so that everyone received currency to live a comfortable life? What if we paid people working critical jobs (like nursing and bin collection) more than people working in non-critical jobs (like banking and insurance). What if a UBI allowed people to care for their children, their elderly parents, create art and volunteer in their local community?


What if we set up a Universal Basic Income (UBI) so that everyone received currency to live a comfortable life?

What if we allowed automation to take over the jobs we are currently fighting to hang on to? What if your contribution to society as a human was more valuable than the number of important business trips you take? What if money was not controlled by central banks but was distributed across the community so that only the people could reap the rewards of a strong local economy.


Money or currency is important of course. We wouldn’t go to work without being paid, right? Yet we don’t mind people volunteering their time to care for the sick, the disabled, the aged and the young at home for no payment. We are happy to allow them to work for nothing while we go to work in our suits and arrive at our important meetings.


We wouldn’t go to work without being paid, right? Yet we don’t mind people volunteering their time to care for the sick, the disabled, the aged and the young at home for no payment.

The world economy is upside down. The few control the currency and the many dance to their tune.


During this pandemic the Australian Government has determined that schools and childcare services should remain open. They should remain open, they say, so that their parents can go to work. Why is the need for parents to go to work more important than keeping the children safe from infection? Yes we know children don't get sick from this virus, but they do carry the virus to parents, grandparents and vulnerable adults.


Yes, some parents are nurses, doctors and paramedics and are needed in the workplace. But we do manage to keep the economy going during the summer holidays. We just need to make the arrangements and that may well mean the other parent who may be a CEO, MD or Executive of some important corporation will need to stay at home instead.


...may be a CEO, MD or Executive of some important corporation will need to stay at home instead.

Despite women’s lib, it is still women who need to think about the caring arrangements for children, aged parents and other vulnerable adults. What if we switched roles? What if men (I am guilty of avoiding parental responsibility as the next man) stood up and said, no more.

The formal and informal caring workforce is predominantly made up of women. Maybe us men need to stay at home, and share (or even take up more of) the load?


It is an attractive proposition to propose a new economy. A new economic system that puts our environment, our health and our social cohesiveness ahead of economic goals. A new community that puts people health and environment first. A currency supports our health, our society and our planet.


A new economic system that puts our environment, our health and our social cohesiveness ahead of economic goals

If socialism means a world where each of us can benefit from this life, then I am a socialist. If anti-capitalism means opposing a system where homelessness and poverty exists in parallel with billionaires and the super-rich, the I am an anti-capitalist.


But what if we could create a new form of capitalism, a "social capitalism"? Prosperity through collective action for the benefit of humans and the planet. Would that be such a bad thing?

But what if we could create a new form of capitalism, a "social capitalism"?

It's just an idea.


“You may say I am a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” John Lennon
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