COVID-19 gives us chance at new economic model
In looking through letters to the editor sections of Black Press papers, I am encouraged to see many people wanting to talk about how we can change things for the better, from the environment to society itself, as a result of this pandemic. We must move towards a far more equitable and sustainable world then what we now live in.
All over the world, the environment is bouncing back from the canals in Venice running clear, to orcas returning to Vancouver Harbour, to the thick layers of perpetual smog over many cities in Asia and in India which have dissipated. As factories start up again, yes, these gains will be temporary, but it is my hope that people will see what the world could be like if we move even faster towards a sustainable economy.
I reject the current economic model based on the lie that through globalization and the free market we will see prosperity for all. That is simply not true. What is true is that in sending our jobs overseas, we reduced our own standards of living and surrender our democracies to foreign corporations and their CEOs.
Not that I am blaming just the corporations looking out for the bottom line for the shareholders. I’m blaming short-sighted people who have bought into another lie, the lie that through the lowest possible price we can have a good life. That is nothing more then a race to the bottom. It is what has given us the part-time employment with no benefits and low wages.
I was taught at university about the Keynesian economic model which was far more equitable with its emphasis on the common good as opposed to the current model of predatory capitalism. The year after I graduated, the false promise of free trade with the U.S. was just beginning to be heard.
It cannot be underestimated how damaging it was for Ronald Reagan to have read Ayn Rand who believed — as did her protégé, Alan Greenspan — that anyone who was not the wealthiest in the land were parasites trying to steal money from the one per cent. And the parasites applauded the move away from the common good and condemned themselves in the process.
Let’s bring back the study of Keynesian economics in university and start the push to reverse the race to the bottom. Let’s end globalization which has robbed us of self-sufficiency which has been especially damaging to our security during this pandemic.
And let’s understand that obsessing over a nation’s GNP needs to change. As someone said quite rightly, the GNP measures everything except what is important.
If anything positive can come out of the pandemic it will be a shift in our thinking towards what is important in the quality of our lives, a cleaner and more sustainable world will be the result. It will compound the damage that this pandemic has caused if we just slide back into the old routines once it has run its course. We can do better; we must do better.
Robert T. Rock