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Sat Mar 28, 2020, 09:27 AM

COVID 19 Reveals How Quickly Ideologies Disintegrate: Changes Still Way Too Little, Far Too Late

EDIT

Not so long ago, Boris Johnson won the 2019 election decrying Jeremy Corbyn’s welfare plans as “money tree” socialism. A few months later, his administration announced it would pay the wages of all those who had lost their jobs, a plan that the chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak correctly described as “unprecedented in British history”. Meanwhile, as Owen Jones notes, ConservativeHome now demands “Big State Government on a scale unknown in modern times”, while pundits in the right-leaning Spectator urge Johnson to “borrow from Corbyn’s playbook”.

Across the Atlantic, the New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, was not so long ago inflicting market-driven cuts on medical services for the vulnerable. But, with New York a centre of infection, Cuomo is – rhetorically, at least –currently out-Sandering Bernie Sanders: decrying competition between manufacturers of masks, gowns and other medical supplies as inefficient and wasteful, and urging the nationalisation of factories to distribute goods according to need.

Likewise, Scott Morrison’s administration has, almost overnight, delivered one of the largest boosts to benefits in Australian history, with “Scotty from Marketing” effectively doubling the rate of jobseeker payments. How, you might wonder, was a dole judged too low to feed and house those laid off during the pandemic considered adequate in July last year, when Morrison decried a boost to Newstart as “unfunded empathy”?

The question illustrates the problem with the Damascene ideological conversions taking place all around us: namely, that they’re too little, too late. After all, if welfare hadn’t been such a whipping boy for politicians for decades, something might have been done to fix the decrepit Centrelink website so that it didn’t crash right when people needed it most. If Australia had invested in a decent public broadband system back when the economy was growing, those of us now working from home wouldn’t be dealing with stuttering, buffering video links.

If the Fair Work Act hadn’t been systematically weighted in the interests of capital, companies such as Qantas wouldn’t be able to respond to coronavirus by standing down employees without pay. More generally, if successive governments hadn’t sold off the plum state-owned assets, the government might now have more options for cushioning current pain. One could go on but you get the idea: the failures of today stem from the choices of the past.

EDIT

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/26/under-coronavirus-pro-market-ideologies-are-overturned-around-the-world-but-its-too-little-too-late

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