Big business is desperate to get the country back to work, as are many workers, who are severely feeling the pinch during lockdown. Most Tory MPs can’t wait for an end to lockdown and an end to the current level of public expenditure and tax losses.
But there should be no return to work unless it can be done safely, both on the journey to and fro and at the place of work.
Furthermore, let’s take this opportunity NOT to return to the whole of the normality we suffered before the lockdown.
Looking at much of our pre-Covid life, there should be no going back.
Let’s not return to building this weapons system that poses a bigger threat to humanity than all the deadly viruses.
But at least it creates jobs. No, not nearly as many as you might think. The steel for the submarines’ hulls comes from France. The nuclear reactors and their cooling system come from the USA. The sophisticated sensor systems are French and Italian. The giant crane, which lifts the boats out of the water for maintenance at their base at Faslane, was built by a US company. The only part of the Trident project which is entirely British is the bill for £31 billion.
But at least it creates jobs at Barrow-In-Furness, where the subs are built, and at Faslane, where they are serviced. At £31 billion we could easily afford to lay-off all the workers and give them very generous pensionsfor the rest of their lives. The workers would no longer be devoting their time to the world’s worst mass-murder machine and we would all be safer.
90 percent of planes across the world have been grounded.
Apart from moving essential freight, let it stay that way. The alternative is a return to exponential growth in air travel, with its appalling noise and the biggest single source of climate-changing CO2.
Cheap flight global travel is the best possible way of moving around viruses old and new.
Plague bacteria used to be carried by human fleas and were transferred across borders by rat fleas.
Air travel is the present-day rat and flea transfer system for viral diseases.
All air travel should be heavily taxed in order to reflect the great damage it does to the planet.
And all travelers should be tested for infection at airports.
But holiday resorts will suffer. True. The world has been living beyond its environmental means and we all must learn to adjust to a new, better normality.
We are told that we must have economic growth if everybody is to have enough for a good life.
During the lockdown, the amount of wealth created in the UK by all the work we do and all that is sold has decreased. If the lockdown should go on for another 2 months, the total drop in national production of wealth will amount to about 13 per cent, the worst recession ─ the biggest drop in wealth production ─ in three hundred years. But even when the economy is steaming ahead, there is massive and ever-growing inequality, with stnking rich people on one hand and poor, struggling people on the other hand. And this gross inequality within the UK is reflected even more starkly between countries across the world.
The Thatcherite/Blairite mantra that the wealth of the rich Trickles down to the benefit of everybody has proved to be a myth. The wealth of the wealthy stays where it is and trickles only into their bank vaults.
To a tiny degree our indigenous stinking rich have been brought down a peg or two by the lockdown and they have been screaming the loudest about their suffering bank balances.
It would be a good thing to have a more rational policy on incomes. For a start, the CEOs of all FTSE 100 companies should receive no bonuses and no share dividends to augment their over-size pay cheques. Their share dividends are taxed at only 7.5 per cent against 20 per cent on salary income. They do not pay National Insurance on their dividends. They benefit from this dirty tax dodge and then go on to cop even more by means of their bent accountants’ schemes for evading income tax and living in tax havens. If we put a stop to all this nonsense, the public purse would take in a lot more money and we could reduce this country’s biggest social problem: inequality.
The global elite is estimated to squirrel away each year, by various ruses, some £13 trillion. Small wonder that half the world is poverty-stricken.
In the UK, in the year 2016-17, the total loss of revenue to HMRC, due to tax avoidance, evasion and off-shoring, was £70 billion. Just for comparison, the total amount budgeted for the NHS in 2019-20 is £140 billion.
This pandemic has drawn fresh attention to the egregious inequality in our society.
Our income differentials are crazy. Professional footballers have a limited career span, but to compensate for that they and their team managers should not receive Monopoly money salaries. Cutting out that nonsense would give a new lease of life to many struggling clubs. Murdoch is the one chiefly responsible for the appalling distortions in the professional football industry. If foreign football stars are not willing to play for British clubs for less than multi-million salaries, so be it. Go play somewhere else.
A fair income system would reward people according to their qualification, experience and contribution to society. NHS and care workers, at all levels, should be paid more. So should teachers, police and prison staff.
The country cannot afford the social ills created by our low pay, high rent economy.
The planet cannot sustain endless economic growth. People would be content with a secure, fairly distributed sufficiency.
A FAIRER SOCIETY
Rescuing the economy from post-Covid recession must not be done by the imposition of more years of painful austerity. The rich minority would not notice it, because its ills would be borne by the majority.
Covid has drawn fresh attention to the inequalities in our society.
The most bitter aspect of social inequality has recently been revealed in the statistics on life expectancy.
People living in high-rise blocks and the working poor are bound to have less healthy, shorter lives. They tend to get less fresh air, less exercise and are more prone to the blandishments of the junk-food giants like McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Express, Coca-Cola and the brewers.
It is cruel to have children living in high-rise battery cages. It is cruel at any time, not just during a lockdown.
It is not only unhealthy, it is also illegal to compel people to live in the unbreathable air of some of our cities. There must be more rigorous taxation on the most polluting vehicles, especially Chelsea tanks, coupled with strenuous measures to limit the traffic entering city centres.
Over time, town planners should reject central government pressure to increase population density. Instead they should seek to reduce density. The so-called Northern powerhouse initiative could help. Government departments and private industry should be pressured to move north. The aim should be to shift jobs and people away from the over-heated Southeast.
The government, any government must be permanently prepared for disease pandemics, especially as they hit the poorest hardest.
The government will be content to see the country meander back to normality as it was.
The lockdown has demonstrated the abysmal unfairness of that normality and has shown better ways.