No system is perfect. Corvid-19 has shown us that. As Britain grinds to a halt, what would have happened if we had tried to carry on as normal as the work dried up, employees laid off with no pay, companies went bust, and no benefits or sick pay for days? Our High Streets could close for good during a terrible recession, led by the biggest fall on the stock markets since 1987.
And, thank goodness, despite that we have a government traditionally of low taxation and a small welfare state, there was a quick realisation that our free market economy – which has given us a safe, stable country – could not cope. It was time to throw in a lifebelt and shore up the weaknesses of the system: relaxing benefit rules, paying salaries.
From a fiscally-Conservative point of view it works because people still have jobs and money to spend which protects growth.
From a socialist or populist-Conservative point-of-view it works because it looks after people.
Now, think about something else that’s killed millions of people, not only those with underlying health conditions but, in fact, has given people underlying health conditions.
Of course I’m talking climate change and air pollution. These are caused by another failure of the system: encouraging that which creates monetary wealth irrespective of the poverty it causes to the environment and climate.
To abate this problem, we could simply stop burning fossil fuels (and meat farming).
But the Coronavirus crisis has shown that putting the brakes on the usual run of things shocks the market and throws it under a bus. You save the climate but chuck the world into chaos. People lose their livelihoods. Anxiety and poverty is rife. And the effect would quickly be temporary.
So we can’t ban burning fossil fuels overnight, even though that may feel the obvious solution to desperate times. We need to make them redundant, make them a bad investment by easing them out of our economy and giving the market fair warning. Prices will go up so people need a financial cushion before more cheap clean energy comes online. And the fix would stick.
It works because it protects the economy, it protects jobs and the people the economy is there to serve.
This is the beauty of a Climate Income.