I am writing in response to Richard Fuller’s calls for the economy to get back to ‘normal’.
Richard Fuller is right to say that we should be treated as adults in considering the economic implications of the Coronavirus pandemic.
That means we should be thinking about how we can re-build our economy in a way that is fairer.
That doesn’t create effective taxation rates of over 60% on the poorest in our communities (when taking tax and benefit clawback rates into consideration) and allow the wealthiest to accumulate disproportionate and inappropriate amounts of wealth.
While I acknowledge some of the figures that Richard is using, they assume that the world is going to look at economics in the same way going forwards and the simple fact of the matter is we can’t.
We do not yet know how the Covid19 pandemic will play out over the next 18 months or beyond, or when the next pandemic will arrive – as it surely will if we don’t change our fixation with growth and consumption.
We still have to deal with climate breakdown – despite some reductions in emissions over the last month the upcoming impacts of climate change are every bit as challenging as Coronavirus.
It was sad to see that the government resisted calls by MPs to start this process of fundamentally reviewing our economy by instigating Universal Basic Income.
It would have been a bold and radical move that would have provided genuine benefit to those hardest hit.
If we are going to genuinely address the economic challenges of Coronavirus, and pandemics generally, then bold and radical approaches are what is required.
Richard does appear to be calling for us all to get back to how it used to be as fast as possible.
Apart from the unreality of that in the face of the ongoing issues I’ve already mentioned it doesn’t address the critical issue of the pandemic.
It is not over.
In their recent note about Covid-19, the Gates Foundation point out that a vaccine or effective therapy are a long way off. Social distancing will have to remain in place for some time.
We cannot afford to put more people’s lives at risk than absolutely necessary.
There will be a second wave – look at the example of Hakkaido in Japan to see how brutal that can be if easing lock down is rushed for economic reasons.
As the Telegraph pointed out there are hidden waves, not just the death rates in care homes but increased unnecessary deaths due to postponement of routine operations and people just not going to see their doctor leading to missed diagnoses.
The survivability of cancer for example is significantly higher when caught early.
Let’s address the real challenge – properly funding our health and social care systems, and redesigning society to create an economy that cares for people and our environment.
Green Party Parliamentary Candidate
Luton and Bedfordshire Green Party