Home > Uncategorized > The world was a mess before anyone ever uttered the word coronavirus

The world was a mess before anyone ever uttered the word coronavirus

from Ken Zimmerman

According to the UN (and many others) the world was a mess before anyone ever uttered the word coronavirus. These problems remain waiting for us after the current crisis fades.

1. We have a decade to significantly curb carbon emissions and avoid catastrophe. Because of years of delayed action, we face an even more pressing mandate. We need to halve global emissions by 2030 but the emissions gap between what is needed and our current commitments is significant. Starting this year [2020], we need to cut emissions by 7.6% every year for the next 10 years to limit warming to 1.5 degrees.

2. The start of 2020 ushers in the ten-year countdown to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) [particularly elimination of poverty and extreme poverty] and is a crucial year for ensuring our policies, financing, and ambition align to reach the Goals by 2030. The first four years since the Goals’ launch witnessed new commitments, coalitions, and approaches among national governments from the developed and developing world, local actors and leaders, the investment community and private sector, and other non-state actors. For its part, the United Nations embarked on a major reform effort to better deliver on the SDGs. The relationship between climate, the SDGs, and peace has also come into greater focus.

3. Inequality is at the heart of many of the gravest issues facing the global community, including development, climate, and peace. It affects people and structures across societies and borders and threatens to stymie hard-fought development gains.

What does this mean? A recent United Nations report shows that 20% of development progress was lost in recent years due to the unequal distribution of education, health, and living standards. The World Economic Forum has calculated that it will take women almost 100 years to reach gender equality. Exclusionary practices in security, justice, and politics are at the heart of many violent conflicts today. And it is seen as a key factor in the rise of protests around the globe, which shows no signs of abating in 2020.

Toppling barriers to opportunity is key to making the transformative progress needed in 2020.

4. The year 2020 marks the ninth anniversary of the war in Syria, and the fifth in Yemen. Venezuela may very well become the source of the world’s largest and most underfunded refugee crisis. Lethal violence and violent crime is on the rise, affecting growing cities in an urbanizing world. And the risk of interstate conflicts and geopolitical strife has taken center stage.

These factors build on worrying trends from 2019, where more people required assistance than initially forecast due to conflicts and extreme weather-related disasters. Women and children are being disproportionately affected and are at higher risks of sexual and gender-based violence. Over 60% of the world’s chronically food insecure people live in countries affected by conflict.

According to the 2020 Global Humanitarian Report, one out of every 45 people on this planet will need help and protection next year. In 2020, almost 170 million people in crises will need help and protection across more than 50 countries, the highest figure in decades.

These figures put into stark relief the challenges of achieving the SDGs in such daunting contexts. At current rates, 80% of the world’s population living in extreme poverty in 2030 will be in fragile or conflict-affected settings.

The world refugee crisis continues to expand.

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  1. Ikonoclast
    April 10, 2020 at 1:02 am

    Agreed. We have to completely remake our political economies and do so in the next ten years. If not, civilization will collapse and humanity will very likely be extinct by the year 2100.

    If we leave aside real and supposed differences between Party Dictatorship Crony State Capitalism (China and Russia) and Corporate Crony Capitalism (USA , EU, Japan, Sth. Korea etc., UK etc.), then we can note their great similarity in creating enormous wealth and power disparities; meaning terrible inequalities. These systems are closely aligned to each other in a fundamental sense. Male, oligarchic elitists are running the systems in both cases and generating gross inequalities and massive ecological damage in the process.

    Both systems have to be called out for what they are and completely rejected. Genuine Democratic Socialism stands in contradistinction to both of these systems. Genuine Democratic Socialism is the only way we can move forward and save civilization and the world. The choice really is that stark.

    What is the way forward to Democratic Socialism? Obviously, it must remain democratic. Our current representative democracies are imperfect for sure, as are our Constitutions where we have them. Nevertheless they must be maintained along with freedom of the press, freedom of information and the rule of (unbiased) law. Clearly, we have a long way to go in these matters.

    At the same time, we face the challenging necessity of becoming more statist. A form of dirigisme (a strong directive role, as opposed to a merely regulatory role, for the government over the economy) has, perforce, to be implemented. We can note that this crisis has already enforced a new level of statism out of sheer necessity. Unregulated capitalism does not even work correctly in good times. It leads to bubbles and crashes. It leads to secular (long run) stagnation, stalled or falling wages, over-accumulation of financial capital, high levels of inequality, inefficiency, and social, climate and environmental destruction through ignoring negative externalities. In a crisis, capitalism fails immediately completely and has to rescued not just by statist actions as bailouts but by suspension of the very rules of operation of finance and capital (rent moratoriums, mortgage moratoriums, debt moratoriums, wage subsidies, work schemes, welfare, more state planning in general and soon, very likely, nationalization of utilities, essential industries and natural monopolies.

    If any empirical proof were still needed that democratic socialist statism is a vastly superior system in every respect to unregulated capitalism, the Great Recession and Global Financial Crisis of 2007-2010 and the COVID-19 crisis of 2020-20?? have provided completely adequate proof. Those who deny this fact are in complete denial of all the empirical evidence. Various tenet and wholly empirical statements, within heterodox economics are now proven correct to a very high degree of certainty, perhaps 99% certainty or better. Capitalism is wrecking society, civilization and the environment. The economy does depend entirely on the climate and biosphere continuing to function to provide a livable environment, resources and bio-services to humans. Money is entirely notional, not real except in the socially constructed sense. It can be created ex nihilo by money printing, QE, debt monetization and other methods. It is a tool (along with well regulated markets) and not an infallible auto-pilot system for running the real economy and dealing with real dangers (from zoonotic disease outbreaks to climate change).

    Heterodox economics from thermoeconomics (biophysical economics) to MMT (Modern Monetary Theory) in the arenas they analyze are ENTIRELY VINDICATED and conventional economics (from classical, to neoclassical to neoliberal is ENTIRELY DEBUNKED). The theoretical victory is so comprehensive it is to all intents and purposes TOTAL. Yet, the democratic socialist struggle in praxis has scarcely begun. It is possible to be in the right morally and intellectually and still lose to cunning, treachery and violence. All of us who understand realpolitik know that and need to remember it. A true people’s revolution of minds and hearts can carry the democratic socialist revolution without significant violence if the people’s solidarity is extensive enough. The oppressive, exploitative elites are tiny in number and without their wealth, propaganda and security apparatus they are puny. It’s time to begin the democratic socialist revolution and carry it through peacefully if we can. Even people in the security apparatus systems (armies, police, security forces) are social and family people too. They too need to be shown at the social and family level where their true interests and loyalties lie. With THE PEOPLE and not with the crypto-fascist elites!

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