And – when it comes to importance – the issue of greatest importance is – Global Warming.
Clearly the economy has a very significant importance, but we have already established, in the GFC, and in the early stages of the pandemic, that we can break the normal ‘rules’ when we need to.
The pandemic itself is not the first we have experienced, although it is ramping up to being trickier than we anticipated, but our scientists are doing a sterling job at creating vaccines. The anti-vaxxers will cause some problems, no doubt, but, if we use enough commonsense – I will come back to that later – we should get things under control.
But, when it comes to global warming, Australia hasn’t begun to handle the necessary action at federal level, and the delay in establishing a clear strategy is causing damage all round – including to the economy.
Now let’s run through those again.
Is our economy being handled as well as it might be, if people are to be able to put food on the table, clothes on their backs, a roof over their heads, get to and from work – if they are fortunate enough to have a job – and have a reasonable quality of life?
Sadly – the answer is NO!
We have government policies designed to encourage those who have shown a capacity to make lots of money, to continue to do so – and a blind eye is turned to how little tax they pay – while at the same time generating a perception that all the rest – if they are struggling and in need of any form of income support – are bludgers, who cannot be trusted to look after their own money and spend it appropriately.
The fact that there are many more people looking for jobs, than there are advertised job vacancies, is brushed aside. Just go to our agents and let them send you off to apply for jobs you cannot qualify for, to ensure the agents have a good enough income to continue stuffing up your life.
And if you are uncooperative, we will take all your money away from you until you are ready crawl to back and beg for help again.
Exaggeration? Not really!
If you are receiving money from the government, you are on welfare, the lowest of the low. Even if you are getting some or all of your income from the Age Pension – which used to be seen as an entitlement for those who had worked hard all their life, paid all their taxes, and finally retired – you are still watched like a hawk to ensure you do not get one cent more than your entitlement.
Has any serious consideration been given to the Universal Basic Income concept?
I am glad you asked that question.
A lot of people have given it a great deal of consideration, but none of them it seems, are in government.
Just think about it a moment.
You decide what the average individual needs to receive to be able to cover all basic costs, without being extravagant, adjust the amount required for a child, who clearly has fewer responsibilities and consequent needs for finance (although a child needs more frequent wardrobe expenses as it grows!), and then the government pays that basic amount to each and every adult, plus, the lesser amount for each child for whom the adult is responsible.
But in some cases you will be giving money to people who already have more than enough!
Then adjust the tax system so it is returned to the government coffers. That is not so hard surely?
Now everyone is being treated by the same system and organising that would be incredibly much less complicated than the current system.
Well may you ask!
You have obviously never been in the clutches of Centrelink!
You lose your job.
You try desperately to find another.
You have nearly run through all your savings.
In desperation you go to Centrelink.
There you are put through the ringer.
Do you own or rent your house? How much do you pay each fortnight for your rent or mortgage? How many bank accounts do you have and how much do you have in each account? What debts do you have? How about your partner?
It seems to go on forever, until the Centrelink Officer knows every little detail about your assets and income.
And heaven help you if you leave something out!
If you have had to go through this process, you know what I am on about and if you have been so fortunate as to never having had to do so, just get hold of the form and check it out!
Now Centrelink has so much work on its hands that it has to outsource some of it – just think what that costs in terms of personnel salaries and superannuation – not to mention recreation leave and sick pay, maternity leave and so on as well as office accommodation.
And there is a wide variety of bases on which you may have entitlement to some sort of pension or relief, each with its own criteria.
Has anyone troubled to take all that into account when considering the UBI?
And one visit to the Centrelink office does not see the matter settled.
While you are on ‘income support’ of any kind, you have to advise Centrelink of any variation in the amount you receive each fortnight lest the government pay you more than you are entitled to.
No wonder people who had obeyed all the rules, but were informed – under the Robo-debt scheme – that they had received hundreds more than they were entitled to – might have committed suicide.
Now hang on a moment. We are still talking about financial issues – ie the economy – and yet you said it was not the most important issue.
You are right – but it crops up in all sorts of contexts and it could so easily be made less important through, for example, policies like the UBI – which is why commonsense was flagged earlier!
The COVID-19 issue has clearly impacted the economy.
In a genuine attempt to reduce transmission of infection and avoid unnecessary loss of life, the government closed down a whole heap of businesses, and put a lot of people out of work.
I am not sure whether you have noticed this, but it seems to me that the government, when it finally woke up to the fact that people with no jobs had no money to keep buying things that helped the economy keep rolling along, the schemes which it devised were more beneficial for businesses than for employees. Not just businesses, either, as shareholders did very nicely, thank you in many instances.
And there were very specific categories of employees and other workers who were eligible for any benefits.
Foreign students and refugees were ignored , as were hundreds in the wide range of gig economies.
Just think a moment. In the 2020/21 bush fires many people in the entertainment industry raised funds for bush fire victims.
The government also promised assistance to those victims, too, but there are many still waiting.
And those in the entertainment industry would mostly have been outside the categories which the government did assist.
Equality has well and truly gone out of the window.
A vast number of people had a seriously reduced or even no income for quite some time, and it is an on-going situation for too many.
Yet Parliament was cancelled for months and all the politicians happily received their regular payments for income and superannuation and leave entitlements and… and…
It really makes me sick!
So – calm down!
We have now established that the pandemic is also closely linked to impacts on the economy, and there will be many people who are waiting for the axe to fall – or even struggling to recover from its fall – as their payments from the government are being periodically reduced, while the moratorium on evicting tenants for late payment of rent or foreclosing on mortgages is not going on forever.
So why do I still maintain that the issue of greatest importance is Global Warming.
Like the pandemic, it affects the whole world.
The scientific evidence is there that we are experiencing, in different parts of the world, increasingly severe droughts, storms, floods, coastal erosion, all of which are linked to our failure to move away from using fossil fuels.
The greenhouse gases which we are emitting not only cause global warming, which, in turn, causes the increasing severity, but the pollution itself is causing damage to health as the quality of the atmosphere is deteriorating.
Now we might be able to achieve an appreciable reduction in infections from the pandemic if the vaccines can be widely distributed. And remember – the developed world can afford to look after its people, but poorer countries might not be able to achieve a sufficient level of vaccination, so that there will be a continuing risk of fresh waves of infections, since people from these countries are often employed outside their country of origin, in areas like transport and other low skilled jobs.
Although in terms of population, Australia is smaller than countries like China, India and the USA, our per capita emissions are higher than in those countries. We also rely on selling coal and gas overseas, and, as other countries increase their rejection of fossil fuels, we need to find other sources of income quick smart, as we are already in financial strife after depending too heavily on trade with China.
Every time anyone suggests that the government must take action to reduce our emissions to a greater extent, the question comes back – “How much will it cost?” – and the answer is to be given in dollar terms.
But please can we stress that the 2020/21 bush fires caused massive damage and cost lives – and the victims are still waiting for help.
And all the costs associated with that event – and with the previous prolonged drought, and the increasingly severe storms affecting the East coast and eroding the foundation of mansion with ocean views, and a whole load of recent climate related events – those costs are the costs of not taking action over the past 40 years!
Just yesterday, the USA paid the price of electing a man as President who was incapable of doing the job properly. And, seemingly for personal or party advantage, the Republicans, who could have supported the impeachment motion some months back, chose to defeat it, and not attempt to rein in his increasingly dangerous behaviour.
There is a strong parallel there!
And unfortunately, the history of the current Prime Minister gives me no confidence that he is the right person to lead this country through the process we need to follow.
It will require us to change many of our patterns of living, in order to reach the level of reduction in emissions which will leave a world for our grandchildren to enjoy as good a life as most of us have had!
It will most certainly not be easy but it will be worth the effort!
But we will not be ‘getting back to normal’ – or even achieving a ‘snap back’ – but creating a new world order!
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