Everything has changed. Changed utterly. Has the corona virus, Covid-19, broken capitalism? Perhaps. Business and financial experts argue that we must keep the show on the road: Reduce interest rates to almost zero. Print money. Keep everyone spending. Save the airlines, the motor car, tourism, roads, cruise ships, burn oil. Spend, spend, spend. Shore up the economy. We mustn’t fall into a depression. But why would we want to return to the flawed system of the last century? The hamster wheel of growth is harming the planet and most of our psyches.
Post Corona let’s think about how we contribute to the social good (or how we “add value” to use the business speak). Most of us have lost the ability to understand the difference between what we need and what we want and so we prop up all sorts of derivative but inessential businesses that come loosely under the sectors of gambling, entertainment, narcissism, addiction, greed. They play on our desire for a thrill, a desire to celebrate our selves, our fears about the future and our need to avoid boredom.
Wants are things you desire, luxuries to spend your surplus on: fast food, horse racing, a punt, the lottery, TV sports, the stock market, fashion, beauty treatments, anti-aging face creams, drinking and eating out, drugs, fast cars, gyms, second houses, tourism, cruises; the entire world of financial derivatives.
Does it really add value to society being a celebrity footballer? Does it add value if you work in gambling? Stock market traders are gamblers but gambling with someone else’s money (most often your pension).
We can try something different after Covid-19. We could become a nation which no longer subscribes to the hard capitalism of winners and losers which favours the strong, creates a society where fewer and fewer people hold more and more of the wealth.
No better place to start than with the leaving cert this year.
Every leaving cert student could be given an amnesty: all awarded 600 points. When the places are allocated, in August, the universities, colleges and apprenticeships would take a random selection of the people who applied for that course if it was over-subscribed (as it would be in courses like medicine). If you do not get accepted this year in the random selection you will be in the first group to be selected for the following year. Or defer to the subsequent year if the course was still oversubscribed by the first year's surplus — and if you still didn't get a place, push to the following year again. The important thing is there is a guarantee that you will eventually get place in medicine if that is what you want to study. If not an oversubscribed course then a college could accept everyone who applied.
If a student had a change of mind and wanted to swap and reapply elsewhere that would be allowed. There is a high chance that the people who apply for a course will do well in it as we tend to know our own strengths and recognise our weaknesses. We self-select (make personal choices) wisely all the time. Why go for languages if you hate them or find them difficult?
Continuing the theme of universal points for students, imagine Ireland using citizen's assemblies to plan on how to become the first green nation; how to provide a universal income for citizens; to having random selection for taking your turn (like jury service) at being a political representative. We could have our own local Irish Euros as our currency (in our banks and on our contactless cards) and they could be exchanged for French Euros (Euro for Euro) in a clearing system at the border when a tourist returned to France, for example. The EU could set a single interest rate across the block. Ideally a single currency would extend to the whole world and end the industry of currency speculation.
Imagine Ireland as the first nation to become carbon neutral, the first nation to fully harness tidal energy, wind energy, solar energy, re-cyling, re-using, up-cycling. The swap industry is booming — the time is ripe for us to take advantage.
Like other nations Ireland could adopt a requirement for every Irish national to do their civic duty in the form of army training for UN peace keeping or doing community service for two years between the age of 18 and 25.
What do we need? Really need. Food, shelter (a home), electricity, health, public transport, clean air, clean environment, information, love, family, touch; and for your soul and self-worth we need books, art, music, gathering together in community, belonging, feeling you are contributing to the social good.
Some might call it communism. I’d call it fair.
#coronavirus #Covid_19 #CoronaCrisis
© Alison Hackett posted 20 March 2020
Alison Hackett — Director and founder of 21st Century Renaissance; author of The Visual Time Traveller 500 Years of History, Art and Science in 100 Unique Designs