I’ve blogged every single day of lockdown without a break, so today I’m putting my feet up, lying on the sofa, and am going to binge watch sci-fi. To keep you all amused and edified in the meantime, here’s a guest post.
by Mark Russell
Before any effective treatment can be commenced, it is essential to first establish an accurate diagnosis to save the life of a severely ill patient. To do that, the doctor will apply years of knowledge and experience, then balance their judgement after a careful and objective examination of all the evidence.
In some cases, like septic shock, the only effective treatment may involve the loss of an organ or limb so the life can be saved and then, the onus on doctors to make that accurate diagnosis quickly is paramount, if the patient is to have a chance of survival.
Many of us experience these difficult circumstances in our lives – from both sides of the coin – but when it is our own life in the balance, all we can do is place our trust in those doctors – and have faith in our own resilience.
But by the time a cancer patient faces the surgeon’s knife, they will understand what is required to have a good outcome. The diagnosis and treatment plan will have been carefully explained and they can prepare themselves to make whatever sacrifices required to ensure survival. If they are fortunate, for sometimes the disease is so severe and threatening, there is little time to prepare.
Humanity is that acutely ill patient. Without warning, our busy life has been rudely interrupted by a critical health crisis that is rapidly progressing towards the gravest outcome – unless appropriate treatment is commenced without delay.
But as we lie in Intensive Care, watching our doctors’ dither and argue and fail to even recognise the most obvious symptoms of the illness, what hope do we have for our survival when such glaring incompetence and inexperience is revealed before us? Our predicament is made even worse with the knowledge that some of the doctors we are relying on are complicit in our demise by their neglect and mismanagement.
Should we resign ourselves to the inevitable tragedy – or do we seek a second opinion without delay?
The virus outbreak has provided much clarity. We have known for many years that our “economy” – our way of life – has been truly toxic for much of the planet and has destroyed many of the ecosystems and resources that are essential to maintain the diversity and environment we rely on to survive. Even with all the warnings, we have been unable or unwilling to change our ways.
Just like a chronic drug-addict whose unfortunate exposure to prescription opioids has created a potentially terminal illness, humanity has several urgent decisions to make before commencing life-saving treatment. Who do we trust? Which sacrifices must we make? What can we do to ensure a good recovery and prevent recurrence? What is the best treatment available?
On the question of trust, we can now see that our ‘doctors’ – with their extensive entourage – are no specialists, but snake-oil salesmen – and we would be foolish in the extreme to have any faith in their opinions.
In seeking to preserve the economy, politicians are not only prolonging and exacerbating the crisis, but risk our very survival by their actions. A complete change of direction is required yet it is increasingly obvious they are ignorant and incapable of doing so. Even at this late stage, we must summon the courage to dismiss them from any further responsibility in our affairs before they inflict the fatal blow.
We must remember this:
As a country with its own currency, the UK can never run out of money – but it can run out of people and the essentials to life – food and fuel – if the combined consequences of a pandemic disease with unknown potential and the evaporation of trust in the authorities are realised. By ignoring the desperate plight of millions of ordinary people, governments across the world are failing in their principle duty – to protect their citizens. Instead many have already been sacrificed on the altar of greed and power in the desire to save the status quo. This neglect can only lead to social collapse and disorder, which will greatly enhance the deadly progress of the virus and render recovery impossible for many generations to come.
That will be our final legacy if we fail to act decisively now.
We must first realise and accept that the virus has completely destroyed the global economy – and in doing so, it has done humanity and the planet a great favour. Within a few months all of the established fiscal frameworks have collapsed, forcing governments to issue new currency to meet increased spending costs amidst grave uncertainties and falling revenue. Growth and productivity have all but ceased and many businesses have already closed for good.
Our malign problem has been surgically and efficiently removed, but our dependency and addiction has left us weak and vulnerable following the operation and we face a critical time ahead on life-support. But as we recuperate, there is time to consider the clarity the outbreak has also provided in clearing the mists and myths obscuring the reality with money and government spending.
Last week (23r April 2020), Gertjan Vlieghe, an ‘external’ member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), gave a speech headed “Monetary Policy and the Bank of England’s Balance Sheet” in an attempt to explain the extraordinary sums of money that are appearing out of thin air. It’s a good effort, using the prevailing mists and myths from telling the story in everyday language – but really the game is well and truly up for these dishonest characters, who by their own admission, have been exploiting those mechanisms for the last half century.
Thankfully, we now have, a simple translation of the speech and its implications for governments and individuals in every country.
This is one example how HMG could structure a response where money is no problem:
All policies directed to maintain the two vital ingredients essential for our recovery; preservation of the individual and those services fundamental to our survival – the NHS, food and medicines and the basic utilities – power, fuel and communications. It is incumbent on the State to apply adequate fiscal support to both until the outbreak and its inevitable consequences are contained and absorbed. That process may be counted in years if not decades.
Thus, direct payment to the individual must be apportioned immediately. This can be achieved by making everyone an employee or student of the ‘State’, with every person receiving a regular monthly ‘salary’ in addition to other supporting measures.
No debt repayments of any kind – mortgages, rents, loans, taxes including VAT, will cease immediately.
No payments for utilities, communications, prescriptions.
A weekly free-of-charge package of groceries and household items.
Emergency grants and funding for all community activities assisting the response and for restoration and support of essential business and services.
This represents a critical investment in a workforce we will desperately need if we are to survive intact and in sufficient numbers to bring with us the expertise, skills and knowledge that will be essential in the years and decades ahead. We will need new skills and a radically different focus for business. This will take time, careful planning and consensus to formulate. The difficult, but crucial period of isolation provides a unique opportunity for everyone to participate towards that goal. But only if they have support.
To achieve this, the ‘State’ – using emergency powers – assumes responsibility for all utilities, telecommunications, mobile and Internet providers, insurance and other essential business such as food production and distribution, supermarkets and pharmacies. The commercial banks are nationalised and serve as a conduit for funding from government. All off-shore banking activities and financial markets under UK control, should be suspended immediately and access to existing deposits will be restricted.
Without this investment and reforms, our children will never know or benefit from anything we have learned and achieved in our lifetimes. Instead they will face the bleakest and most savage future imaginable.
If we are in in this together, it must be on equal terms – or not at all.
The net worth or earning capability of any individual is no longer important or representative of their true value. It never was. Is a footballer or media celebrity more important than a cleaner or carer? Do billionaires like Branson, Green and the Windsors deserve any better than you or your family?
It is simply not possible – and highly undesirable – to transition from one society to another under the heavy burden of unjust inequality and unrestrained greed. In time we will need to reconcile these discrepancies in a fair and sensible manner – but for the foreseeable duration, whilst our very survival is in the balance, we must all be on an equal footing financially – and in all other areas of support.
Nothing less will do.
History has taught us that every civilisation, at the point of collapse, has but the briefest of time to adjust to the new circumstances and threats. As yet, none have grasped the moment or faced the challenge with any realism and all have failed.
We have everything we need at our disposal to navigate through the troubled waters ahead, but we are being dragged down by the weight of a snarled anchor.
Just as humanity must dispense with the discredited snake-oil salesmen it is time to cut the chains from the deadweight below – those who the salesmen truly represent. There is much to be done – how we organise and support each other through the difficult times ahead.
How we recover and rebuild. How we restore, not only ourselves but also this place we call home. Unless we do this together, many of us will perish. Together, on equal terms, we may yet again flourish and learn to appreciate the true value of this life and each other. But everything needs to change.
Unfortunately, it won’t – at least not with any Westminster government and the British Establishment in charge of our affairs. As Vlieghe’s speech illustrates – even when Pandora’s Box has been opened, they still try and claim it’s nothing more than a meaningless trinket. They are the very worst of the snake-oil villains and will stop at nothing to preserve the status quo. They have yet to realise that is no longer possible. That dichotomy spells disaster.
On that basis, I appeal to those in Scotland in a position of authority to urgently consider the potential for Scotland, as an independent country with its own currency, to provide for its citizens a radically different fiscal stimulus, where the only limit on spending and progressive policies is our own imagination.
All of the suggestions outlined above can be achieved in a moment if the Scottish people and government have sovereignty over their own affairs. The time for decisive leadership is surely upon us. It is a matter of survival – nothing less.
When I was a young boy, my grandmother died from a simple act of medical negligence that was completely avoidable. No one had the knowledge to speak up at the time and we can never bring her back. I still miss her today. She instilled in me her great love of this beautiful country, its people, their history and traditions. “It has everything you could ever want”, she used to say. It does; we should hold onto it with everything we can. Especially the Blackmount Rowan.
On her mantelpiece was another tree – a porcelain ornament with an inscription below and another lesson:
“Tall oaks from small acorns grow.”
Now is the time to make that happen.