“To cure disease is like waiting until one is thirsty before digging a well”

 

Coronavirus - Where to From Here?

Covid-19 is a highly contagious, life threatening virus, and as a result coronavirus has prompted global isolation measures that have cut economic supply chains to the extent that some are predicting an economic downturn bigger than the Great Depression. Between 1929 and 1932, ‘Personal income, tax revenue, profits and prices dropped, while international trade fell by more than 50%. Unemployment in the U.S. rose to 23% and in some countries rose as high as 33%.’

 

Although the bottom line of the Great Depression was bad,it did have some positives:

 ‘…a lower cost of living, huge technological advances, new forms of entertainment, more leisure time, and a return to responsible social behaviour… It was the beginning of the five-day work week….the Golden Age of radio and film….the playing of social sports like bridge, Monopoly, and softball….leisure time to read books and dance the jitterbug….while scientists invented the electron microscope, FM radio, radar, the jet airplane, and network television….’


 

Since the industrial revolution the well-being of the human family has increasingly become a secondary consideration to economic growth; the thinking being that ‘flow on’ will lead to good educational opportunities, universal health care, just laws, promotion of the arts, quality food supplies, sporting opportunities and good governance.

 

Capitalism requires the concentration of wealth in the hands of investors who are focal points for stimulating further economic growth and through corporate acquisitions this process eventually ends up concentrating wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer people. In recent times this has reached the point where 1% of the global populace owns half the world’s wealth and your average worker is working harder than ever to get a piece of that pie.

 

Global economic growth cannot continue indefinitely within a world of finite boundaries. Coronavirus’s effect on non-essential elements of  expanding economies has given the world pause to consider the way forward. What cultural and economic changes will Coronavirus create - where to from here?


 

World Trade & Safety Net Payments

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(May 2-8th 2020)

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But this is not the thirties and the technology of the twenty first century has placed the world in a better situation to respond. Meanwhile the effects and treatment of global warming have moved into the background – even though global warming is a  more pervasive threat and has a greater potential for long term destruction.

 

Coronavirus is not going to disappear until a vaccine is produced; and in between time economic concerns will be those related to the essentials of daily living and this is likely to go on for some time: "One of the problems with corona vaccines in the past has been that when the immune response does cross over to where the virus-infected cells are it actually increases the pathology rather than reducing it."

 

Regardless of a country’s type of economy, the everyday concern of the majority of people is dictated by perceived needs and the ability to satisfy those needs, hence the longer this social isolation continues, the more likely a shift in social customs and economic growth.


 

The World Trade Organization (WTO) predicts that ‘World trade is expected to fall by between 13% and 32% in 2020 as the COVID 19 pandemic disrupts normal economic activity and life around the world.’

 

With the number of jobless reaching record proportions, governments have to provide safety nets or else risk public anarchy. Around the world governments are proposing ways of doing this but the rapid spread of coronavirus has placed proposals in the uncertainty bag along with individual wish lists – and in the end the two are not going to match.

 

Trade will be an important ingredient here, along with fiscal and monetary policy.’ But then the WTO goes on to say: ‘...restrictions on movement and social distancing to slow the spread of the disease mean that labour supply, transport and travel are today directly affected in ways they were not during the (2008/09) financial crisis. Whole sectors of national economies have been shut down, including hotels, restaurants, non-essential retail trade, tourism and significant shares of manufacturing.’

 

Governments want people to use up holiday pay and other sources of income before they can access safety net payments. Applications for government payments are being processed under duress and conjecture – so they are slow.

 

In the long term it’s difficult to understand how governments, many of who are running huge budget deficits are going to finance – for any extended period – safety net payments.


 

Health & Health Care

There is not much that the medical fraternity can do for coronavirus victims. Apart from the self-care recommendations of rest, plenty of fluids, and eating nutritious food. Hospital treatment can only add access to ventilators and the use of intravenous fluids for dehydration.

 

As of April 21st, Vietnam had recorded 268 cases of coronavirus without there being a single death. Vietnamese Doctors treated symptoms (like fever) with traditional methods while putting patients on strict, nutritious diets and monitoring their blood oxygen levels.

 

The important thing to note here is the emphasis on a strict, nutritious diet since the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in America has noted that ‘nearly 90% of adult patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in the US had one or more underlying diseases…The most common were hypertension (49.7%), obesity (48.3%), chronic lung disease (34.6%), diabetes (28.3%), and cardiovascular disease (27.8%). These conditions were even more prevalent in deceased COVID-19 patients.

 

America spends over a $1,000 billion dollars in health care annually and this is an amount comparative to what it spends on defence and social security - so why do US citizens have one of the highest mortality rates from corona virus infections? The figures suggest that the health of the average American is not that flash with obesity rates increasing from 30% in year 2000 to 42% in year 2018 and obesity contributing to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers - all of which are among the leading causes of death in the U.S.

 

It’s never too late to change your lifestyle - and it’s a responsibility of governments to give you the nudge and then support you. The huge amount of money spent on sickness in America smells of an industry being farmed for its products rather than one that is genuinely interested in health.


 

Tackling Global Warming

This graph of temperatures over time from the NASA website provides irrefutable evidence of global warming:


 

Many people are expressing surprise at how good the world looks without the pollution of a striving economies. ‘India's capital is one of the world's most polluted cities, but its skies have turned blue and many people can see the Himalaya Mountains for the first time. In Italy's Venice, meanwhile, canal water is so clear fish can be easily seen.’

 

Coronavirus has given us time to reflect upon global warming. If, by combining resources and working together for the good of all, we can overcome coronavirus then why can’t we stop the more sinister devastation that will result from increased global temperatures brought about by a reliance on fossil fuels.

 

In 2010 daily oil consumption was 86 million barrels, by 2020 this had risen to 101 million barrels and it is predicted that by 2040 the daily consumption will be 140 million barrels with 65% of that being used by transport.

 

To tackle the transport problem governments must place higher taxes on oil and promote hybrid and electric cars. A people’s tax on petroleum could be redistributed to the people so that the individual who drives less stands to gain more.


 

Where to From Here?

Many countries have started to lift restrictions in an effort to get economies going so that the unemployed can find jobs and the debt burden on government coffers can be relieved.

 

The problem with this is that populations are still vulnerable to coronavirus regardless of isolated incidences. Cross border activities such as tourism, which accounts for 10% of global GDP, have to be curtailed until a vaccine has been found and distributed.

 

Economies have to develop ways to work as semi-closed economies which will mean developing new supply chain methods. Concentrations of wealth need to be broken down by taxation systems that share a countries wealth amongst its unemployed and incapacitated, as well as allowing governments to financially afford infrastructure to cater for future needs.

 

A steady state economy would limit ecological degradation since growth requires space and resources. A Guaranteed Minimum Income or ‘Basic Income’ has been trialled by a number of countries; government payouts for the coronavirus jobless are in a similar vein and these, along with higher taxes on the mega rich, will result in mixed economies like Finland rather than free-market economies like Hong Kong or Singapore.

 

Coronavirus can be seen as an agent of ‘awakening’ since its effect has been to weigh human life against the fruits of economic growth. In the long-term global warming left unabated has the potential to cause more damage to lifestyles than does Coronavirus - but in the short term it is easier to ignore.

 

It is for each of us to decide whether we want to maintain economic growth and the opportunity for personal aggrandizement that it offers as opposed to a more humane and sustainable future. The effects of Coronavirus on economies is giving us a glimpse of what global warming will eventually do to the world. Time to stop degrading the fish bowl we live in and look towards alternative ways of fulfilling our lives.


 

World Trade & Safety Net Payments
Health and Health Care
Tackling Global Warming
Where to From Here