Based on various estimates, the overall cost of the ongoing pandemic to the global economy could be close to $ 16 trillion. The calculations includes loss in global GDP, the unemployment related costs along with cost of deaths across the world. It is a tragedy that most of us haven’t seen during our lifetime.
Governments aren’t just struggling to bailout businesses, their ability to help people is also extremely limited. And the borrowing that the governments have had to do in order to support their economy will most likely rise further as the economic damage from the pandemic piles up. So there will be significant pressure on the budget going forward, which will result in downgrading of sovereign debts globally. But this level of high debt burden does not yet endangers the long-term sustainability of the public finances. However, this assumption is contingent to the global economy recovering fast.
No doubt the economy will have to adjust and adapt, and we may not get back some of the lost capacity. But the human ingenuity is an extremely dependable partner, so it is very likely that we will find ways to build a better and richer economy. And someone somewhere might have started that process and journey already.
By dialling the future, we could get glimpse of that possible future, and overtime the future that we have imagined could possibly be turned into a reality. I believe, it is time for us to invent a future where we have the tools and resources to help us do better as a global society.
What the pandemic has shown us so far is that, a free society and the economy is not adequately designed to function well during a pandemic. The flaws within the structure of the free society as well as the economy only exacerbates the problem. So maybe it is time for us to imagine add-ons that will compliment the existing system.
I have imagined a society which is governed through a collective “ universal citizens charter “ – a bill of rights and privileges agreed between individual members of the society. Which will include a code of conduct with people taking on their individual responsibilities towards themselves as well as each other and the society at large. The existing inefficient and expensive prison systems be replaced with rehabilitation centres aimed at transforming people, giving them a second chance to become a valuable and contributing member of a society.
Also, I believe it is time for us to consider money as an essential basic resource that should become part of universal basic human right. As I see it, for people today, having access to money is as essential as having access to clean water and air. And the question I ask is, without people what is the true value of money or an economy for that matter, nothing really. So it is people who create value, and therefore, it is only natural that people should have the right to an essential resource like money. I believe poverty today is by design.
Under the universal citizens charter each member of the society could agree to allocate each other a sum of money annually in the form of a universal digital credit, an amount that will be enough to fully cover the yearly cost of living of a person in a specific society.
The central bank acting on behalf of the people and the government could allocate the annual universal digital credit to people every first day of the year or in other words 1st of January of every year. This digital credit could be converted into money by the nominated commercial banks holding people bank accounts for a small fee. And governments could be allowed to deduct a fixed amount from the money every year to pay for the healthcare costs as well as other public services including of basic education.
The universal credit will not be a government’s fiscal responsibility unlike a universal basic income structure, in this case people will be guaranteeing each other and allocating each other enough credit as resource to fund the basic annual cost of living of an individual.
This could allow the governments then to withdraw their existing inefficient social security spending. People could save their universal digital credit, or roll it over, use it to buy good or services by converting it into money through commercial banks for a small fee.
A secure digital wallet managed by the central banks attached to people’s national identity cards, passport or driving license linked to their nominated bank account and their unique taxpayer number could become a must.
In a world where technology could replace most jobs, the governments ability to create more jobs thought policy initiatives will be extremely limited. Which will lead to widening of existing income inequality gap, and the strain on the society will only grow deeper. Also to some extent jobs will become pointless in the future .
The job satisfaction level globally is in decline, and even with right skills there may not be enough well paying job opportunities available for people. Also overall poverty among employed population is on the rise, which only means that people in jobs aren’t able to make ends meet.
So quite clearly the existing design of the economy has reached its design limits, and therefore, there is an immediate need to conceive add-ons that will help the economy work better for the society. You can create a more productive society and a richer global economy by meeting people’s basic need to survive and exist. Also in case of a future pandemic, governments will not be called in to bail people out, because people will be taking care of themselves.
Those who aspire to be wealthy and famous will still be able to do so, and would not have to carry a moral obligation to care for those who can’t fend for themselves. Because the society will take care of its own, and since there is no value to an economy or money without people, it is only natural that people were assigned the value in money through an allocated universal digital credit to fund their own annual existence. Also the overall benefit to the economy of the add-ons will be immense.
I hope the ongoing pandemic will trigger a change. A change that will extend the shelf life of the current economic system and the structure of the organised free society. I am great believer in human ingenuity so I will be betting on my fellow beings to create a better tomorrow.