Because of the purgatory of COVID-19, now is a good time to seriously reflect on our present socio-economic structures, which have compounded the difficulties caused by the virus.
Difficulties have included folks not able to afford rent or mortgage payments, many workers and others living paycheque to paycheque and, perhaps the most devastating of all, the terrible death toll of seniors in long-term care homes.
For the last 40 years, we have lived under the socio-economic model of neoliberalism.
It is an economic order that prioritizes the rights of capital above the rights of the majority of people with its emphasis on global free markets, privatization of government services, low taxation for the rich and corporations, limiting the rights of workers, low wage policies and deregulation limiting the power of governments.
These policies and many others of their ilk have led to the difficulties mentioned above.
When a catastrophic pandemic confronts the whole earth, neoliberalism has been found to be impotent.
Therefore, the main institutions that can effect a real challenge to the calamities of COVID-19 are nation-state governments, by supporting their populations with large monetary payouts.
Unfortunately, these governments find themselves with large deficits owing to policies of neoliberalism, but they are the only tool we have unless we are willing to see massive sickness and death.
All of the above shows how we must look at new economic models for the future, models that will include:
• Supporting individuals and families through a guaranteed income, especially as future automation will increase unemployment and under employment;
• Providing a fair taxation system so the rich and corporations pay their fair share;
• Sustaining a well funded health system that includes prescription medication;
• Supporting family farms, rather than agribusiness;
• Providing a living wage with benefits for long-term care workers.
The actions taken by governments show we can take on devastating challenges collectively.
Meanwhile, with the same courage and conviction, we can surmount the greatest challenge of our lifetime — climate change — for the earth will not seek favour, but will demand justice.