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Our future is in our hands

Bernard Thomson

Over recent weeks and months the Covid-19 pandemic has exerted a significant toll on our society and the world community. We have suffered massive losses to our economy leaving an unknown employment future for so many Australians. We are only now emerging from the dramatic limitations in our ability to participate in social and cultural activities and we continue learning to live with an uncertain future.

Things we have already learned

  1. We have learned to distinguish the real economy of goods and services from the financial system which has come to dominate it over recent decades.
  2. We have come to recognise which resources and services are central to our common wellbeing and we have learned to value the knowledge and experience of our health professionals and the facilities they rely on.
  3. We have learned that widespread cooperation is essential to effectively address a common threat.
  4. We have agreed that everyone has a right to protection and support for a society to function well.
  5. We have learned that the political leadership can lay aside ideology in the face of this unprecedented challenge and take measures which would have been unthinkable only six months ago.

We have also learned that partisan self-interest and market forces fail us when faced with this common threat. We have not yet learned that there are other existential threats where market forces provide no useful guide.

With an uncertain future ahead of us, we must now consider what lessons we will take into the future as a return to “normal” is clearly not an option.

What we should know

A return to economic orthodoxy in Government policy will force an austerity regime and growing inequality on this country for the foreseeable future. The current levels of private debt can only lead to widespread depression and the notion that we can expand production to pay our way out is fanciful. And our increasingly fragile natural environment simply cannot tolerate any expansion of current economic practices.

It is time for the best minds in economics to openly examine the money creation process by the Australian Government and debunk the misleading notion that money is just another commodity subject to scarcity. We will then be able to have open and mature discussion about societal values with- out the limiting mindset encapsulated in the words: “how will we pay for it?”

As we now know it will be our natural resources, infrastructure and human creativity that will provide for our future well-being. The assertion that future generations will have to somehow repay the federal government fiscal injection into society has been exposed as patently untrue.

What we can do

  1. Examine and openly discuss the responsibility of Government to use fiscal policy as a means of rebalancing the economy and creating a more just society.
  2. Identify the essential resources for a prosperous and just society.
  3. Discuss the role of the financial sector in facilitating a transition towards a sustainable, resilient and fair society.
  4. Stop the “debt myth” and assertions that future generations will be saddled by public debt.

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