Coronavirus, no growth and basic income

A Lilac Co-housing neighbour, Keith Whittaker, makes a useful suggestion: “Clive why don’t you use your blog to say that if there was a basic income, self-isolation to avoid Coronavirus would not be a problem for the low paid, self employed and so forth. I agree, but would that be a steam hammer to crack a nut? We don‘t know just how enormous the Coronavirus nut will become, but the basic income should be in place anyway.

But the problem is much wider. If we are to save the ecosphere for future generations, we must downsize the economy to what the ecosphere can cope with. Coronavirus seems to be making a start on doing this. I think Asperger’s gives me an insight as to why humans seem incapable of designing anything better, but Coronavirus is nowhere near being adequate (yet).

Dr. Whitty, the government’s chief adviser, warns that although panic will not be helpful, the outbreak is now likely to get worse before it gets better. Among the fallout which the virus has already caused are:

FTSE at its lowest since 2016

Oil has its worst day in 11 years

Flybe collapses: Coronavirus was the last straw

Chinese air quality recovers

I could go on. Tourism is hit, car sales are down, though Corona is obviously not the only factor.

Before welcoming Chinese air quality as good news, bear in mind that it is a spin-off from a severe drop in economic activity. But all these apparent disasters are what must happen, on a bigger, and long lasting basis, if the ecosphere is to survive. Oil and coal must stay in the ground, flying must stop, as must factory fishing in the Pacific  . etc, etc. . .

I have said in previous blog posts that the world will continue to be on course for ecological meltdown as long as investors think rainforest destruction, hydraulic fracturing and many other ‘normal’ practices will remain profitable. For now, most of these appear to be unaffected by Coronavirus. They will only suffer if the world economy dips low enough.

But to return to my neighbour’s original comment, if, as Dr.Whitty envisages, mass self-isolation becomes the norm, hardship will make the case for comprehensive ‘first aid’ unstoppable. But once in place,that first aid can become a catalyst for everything that needs to happen to save the ecosphere. Perhaps someone has a better idea than the UBI?

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