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INFORMAL VIRTUAL MEETING OF THE 2020 ECOSOC FORUM ON FINANCING FOR DEVELOPMENT FOLLOW-UP

(23 APRIL 2020)

COMMUNICATION FROM THE MUTUALIST GROUPS VYV AND SOLIDARIS

INFORMAL VIRTUAL MEETING OF THE 2020 ECOSOC FORUM ON FINANCING FOR DEVELOPMENT FOLLOW-UP

(23 APRIL 2020)

 PROGRAMME

FINANCING SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN THE CONTEXT OF COVID-19

10:00 - 10:05 : OPENING REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT OF ECOSOC 

10:05 - 10:10 : REMARKS BY THE SECRETARY–GENERAL

10:10 - 10:15 : REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY

10:15 – 10:20 : VIDEO MESSAGE BY MS. NGOZI OKONJO-IWEALA, BOARD CHAIR, GLOBAL ALLIANCE FOR                                                   VACCINES AND IMMUNIZATION (GAVI)

10:20 – 10:30 : KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY MS. NYARADZAYI GUMBONZVANDA, BOARD CHAIR, ACTION AID                                                       INTERNATIONAL

                           OVERCOMING THE PANDEMIC: WHAT WILL IT TAKE FOR THE MOST VULNERABLE                                                                   COUNTRIES

10:30 – 10:40 : KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY MR. JAY COLLINS, VICE CHAIRMAN, BANKING, CAPITAL MARKETS                                                     AND ADVISORY, CITIGROUP

                           GLOBAL COLLECTIVE ACTION AND REFORM FOR A SUSTAINABLE RECOVERY

10:40 – 10:45 : CLOSING REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT OF ECOSOC

OP-ED

FOR AN ECONOMIC RECOVERY THROUGH AN INTELLIGENT AND INCLUSIVE CURRENCY

YOUSSEF ACHOUR

APRIL 21, 2020 - YOUSSEF ACHOUR

YOUSSEF ACHOUR, CHAIRMAN AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF THE UP GROUP, ADVOCATES A WIDE USE OF SOCIAL SECURITIES, WHICH ARE THE BEST WAY OF CHANNELLING MONEY TO THE MOST VULNERABLE GROUPS AFFECTED BY THE CRISIS.

IN JUST A FEW DAYS, A VIRUS HAS SHATTERED OUR DAILY LIVES AND OUR CERTAINTIES. CONFRONTED WITH THE EXPERIENCE OF VULNERABILITY, DOGMAS NO LONGER HOLD, DAMS ARE BURSTING AND IMPROVISED BRIDGES ARE BEING BUILT. SUDDENLY CONFINED, WE REASSESS OUR INDIVIDUAL AND COLLECTIVE NEEDS THROUGH AN EMPIRICAL SORTING EXERCISE AND THE ESSENTIAL JUMPS OUT: FOOD, HOUSING, HEALTH CARE, AND CONVERSATION.

THE HEROISM OF EVERYDAY LIFE, THAT OF THE PEOPLE WHO HELP TO CARRY OUT THESE ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS SO THAT AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE CAN CONTINUE TO LIVE AS WELL AS POSSIBLE. WE PAY TRIBUTE TO THIS HEROISM EVERY EVENING AT 8 P.M., BUT BEYOND THIS TRIBUTE, IT RAISES THE QUESTION OF THE PROPER ALLOCATION OF OUR COLLECTIVE RESOURCES IN THE FACE OF THE IMBALANCES THAT THE CRISIS CAUSED BY THE COVID-19 EPIDEMIC HAS REVEALED.

IN ORDER TO COMPENSATE FOR THESE IMBALANCES AND TO ENSURE THE CONTINUITY OF ECONOMIC ACTIVITY, THE STATES, WITH FRANCE AT THE HEAD, ARE LAUNCHING AMBITIOUS EMERGENCY PLANS WORTH SEVERAL TENS OF BILLIONS OF EUROS, AND THE CENTRAL BANKS, INCLUDING THE ECB, ARE INJECTING HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS OF EUROS INTO THE BANKING AND FINANCIAL SYSTEM. THESE ARE THE UNPRECEDENTED, USEFUL AND PROACTIVE QUANTITATIVE FISCAL AND MONETARY POLICIES. BUT THEY WILL CERTAINLY NOT BE ENOUGH, BOTH TO DEAL WITH SOCIAL EMERGENCIES, TO TAKE EFFECTIVE CARE OF THE MOST FRAGILE POPULATIONS AND THEIR CARERS, BUT ALSO TO RELAUNCH THE ECONOMY BY PREVENTING THESE FUNDS FROM FUELLING SAVINGS, SPECULATION AND CAPITAL FLIGHT. A QUALITATIVE POLICY MUST THEREFORE TAKE OVER FROM QUANTITATIVE MEASURES; IN OTHER WORDS, WE NEED TO MAKE THE CURRENCY SUPPORTIVE AND INTELLIGENT IN ORDER TO ALLOCATE RESOURCES TO THE ESSENTIALS.

PUT THE MONEY WHERE IT BELONGS

AT THE TIME OF THE FIRST DRAFTS OF RECOVERY PLANS, IT IS INDEED ESSENTIAL TO REMEMBER THAT THEY WILL HAVE TO OBEY THE SAME IMPERATIVES AS THE EMERGENCY PLANS: PUT THE MONEY WHERE IT IS NEEDED. AND WHILE THE PUBLIC AUTHORITIES SAY THEY ARE NO LONGER COUNTING THE BILLIONS, THE OBJECTIVES OF THEIR ALLOCATION REMAIN TO BE SPECIFIED. TO BE EFFECTIVE, STIMULUS MEASURES MUST BE TARGETED AS A MATTER OF PRIORITY TO THE PUBLIC AND THE SECTORS MOST WEAKENED BY THE CRISIS. THEY MUST BE DIRECT, TRANSPARENT AND TRACEABLE.

TO DO THIS, THE RECOVERY NEEDS TO BE DEFINANCED BY PAYING OUT THE MONEY DIRECTLY TO CITIZENS AND CONSUMERS. THIS POURING OF "HELICOPTER MONEY", SUCH AS THE ONE THEORISED BY MILTON FRIEDMAN IN THE LATE 1960S, WAS HITHERTO HETERODOX, BUT IT IS NOW CARRIED BY BOTH LIBERAL AND ANTI-GLOBALIZATION ECONOMISTS.

IN THIS WAY, WE CAN EASILY AND DIRECTLY CHANNEL THE CURRENCY TO THE MOST VULNERABLE GROUPS AFFECTED BY THE CRISIS, ESPECIALLY AS THESE GROUPS ARE SOMETIMES UNDER, BADLY OR EVEN UNBANKED. THESE ARE POOR INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES, PRECARIOUS WORKERS, THE HOMELESS, THE DEPENDENT, BUT ALSO ALL THE CARERS - THE NEW HEROES OF EVERYDAY LIFE - SUCH AS CARE WORKERS, THE POLICE, SHOPKEEPERS AND ON-CALL STAFF. IT IS ALL THESE PEOPLE WHO MUST BE THE FIRST TO BE HELPED.

SOCIAL SECURITIES AS EFFECTIVE TOOLS

TO ACT DIRECTLY, TRANSPARENTLY AND IN A TRACEABLE MANNER, THERE IS A TOOL THAT HAS BEEN USED BY PUBLIC AUTHORITIES FOR MORE THAN HALF A CENTURY THROUGHOUT THE WORLD AND WHICH HAS PROVED ITS WORTH: "SOCIAL SECURITIES". THESE RESPOND TO CLEARLY IDENTIFIED SOCIAL NEEDS AND MAKE IT POSSIBLE TO TARGET PEOPLE WHO ARE ELIGIBLE FOR ASSISTANCE OR THE EXERCISE OF A SOCIAL RIGHT. MILLIONS OF FRENCH PEOPLE USE THEM ON A DAILY BASIS. THEY ARE RESTAURANT VOUCHERS THAT ACCOMPANY THE RESTORATION OF SALARIES OR OTHER SOCIAL VOUCHERS THAT ENSURE THE DEMOCRATISATION OF CULTURE, HOLIDAYS OR ACCESS TO PERSONAL SERVICES. THEY ALSO ALLOW FOR QUICK AND EFFICIENT MANAGEMENT OF EMERGENCY SITUATIONS.

FOR SEVERAL DECADES NOW, MUNICIPAL SOCIAL ACTION CENTRES HAVE BEEN USING THE PERSONALISED SUPPORT VOUCHER SO THAT VULNERABLE PEOPLE CAN HAVE ACCESS TO ESSENTIAL GOODS AND SERVICES; THE UNIVERSAL SERVICE EMPLOYMENT VOUCHER (CESU) IS USED BY MANY DEPARTMENTAL COUNCILS TO PAY THE PERSONALISED AUTONOMY ALLOWANCE OR THE DISABILITY COMPENSATION BENEFIT; A PREPAID CARD WAS INTRODUCED BY THE GOVERNMENT TO REBUILD SAN MARTIN AND SAINT-BARTHELEMY AFTER HURRICANE IRMA AND, MORE RECENTLY, TO PAY THE ASYLUM SEEKER'S ALLOWANCE. THIS FLEXIBLE AND EFFICIENT VEHICLE IS ALREADY MAKING IT POSSIBLE TO GIVE CHANGE WITH GREATER SOLIDARITY.

SOCIAL SECURITIES ALSO HELP TO MAKE MONEY SMARTER. AFTER THE PERIOD OF EMERGENCY, NATURALLY GUIDED BY REACTION, IT WILL BE APPROPRIATE, AFTER THE CRISIS, TO GIVE PRIORITY TO REASON. IT WILL BE NECESSARY TO SUPPORT THE CONSUMER SECTORS HARDEST HIT BY THE CRISIS CAUSED BY THE COVID-19 EPIDEMIC AND TO CHANNEL PART OF INDIVIDUAL EXPENDITURE TOWARDS THOSE SECTORS. THESE ARE MAINLY THE HEART OF OUR CITIES AND TERRITORIES, OUR LOCAL SHOPS, RESTAURANTS, LEISURE, CULTURE, TOURISM AND PERSONAL SERVICES WHICH USUALLY PUNCTUATE THE DAILY LIFE OF THE INHABITANTS.

HERE TOO, SOCIAL SECURITIES HAVE FOR DECADES BEEN ABLE TO CREATE A VIRTUOUS CIRCLE BECAUSE, UNLIKE A MONETARY PAYMENT INTO BANK ACCOUNTS OR FINANCIAL CIRCUITS, THEY ARE THE ONLY ONES ABLE TO GUARANTEE THAT THE REVIVAL THROUGH CONSUMPTION WILL SUPPORT VERY SPECIFIC UNIVERSES OR CONSUMER GOODS AND SERVICES, FEED DEFINED TERRITORIES AND BENEFIT THE ECONOMY IN A SHORT TIME SINCE THIS CURRENCY IS ONLY VALID FOR A LIMITED PERIOD OF TIME WITHOUT BEING CONVERTIBLE INTO CASH.

AS A COOPERATIVE PLAYER, ALONGSIDE ALL THOSE WHO ASPIRE TO A MORE SOCIAL AND SOLIDARITY-BASED ECONOMY, WE SEE EVERY DAY, IN THE CONTEXT OF OUR ACTIVITIES IN THE MANAGEMENT OF SOCIAL SECURITIES, THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THIS AFFECTED CURRENCY THAT MEETS THE NEEDS OF WELL-DEFINED AUDIENCES. IT IS TIME TO PUT THIS TOOL AT THE SERVICE OF AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE AND TO BUILD A FAIRER SOCIETY, GIVING BACK ITS PLACE TO THE PROXIMITY AFTER WE HAVE MISSED IT SO MUCH.

THE OP-ED IS PUBLISHED ON « ALTERNATIVES ECONOMIQUES »

 

"THIS CRISIS IS REALLY OUR LAST CHANCE"

OLIVIER DE SCHUTTER

APRIL 15, 2020 - PIERRE JASSOGNE

ON MAY 1ST, OLIVIER DE SCHUTTER WILL TAKE UP THE POST OF UNITED NATIONS RAPPORTEUR FOR EXTREME POVERTY AND HUMAN RIGHTS. FOR ALTER ECHO, THE UCL PROFESSOR OF INTERNATIONAL LAW CALLS FOR A CHANGE IN OUR DEVELOPMENT MODEL, CONSIDERING THE CURRENT HEALTH CRISIS AS A LAST WARNING.

ALTER ECHO: NO LONGER WANTING YESTERDAY'S WORLD... YOU CARRY THIS MESSAGE WITH OTHERS BECAUSE THE CRISIS HAS ILLUSTRATED THE FRAGILITY OF A DEVELOPMENT MODEL BASED ON THE SEARCH FOR EFFICIENCY AT ALL COSTS. SO WHAT WILL THE WORLD BE MADE OF?

OLIVIER DE SCHUTTER: THERE IS A TRADE-OFF BETWEEN EFFICIENCY AND RESILIENCE. EFFICIENCY IS THE DEEPENING OF THE INTERNATIONAL DIVISION OF LABOUR, ECONOMIES OF SCALE, PRODUCTION AUTOMATION, GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAINS. OUR ENTIRE GROWTH MODEL IS BASED ON THIS, BUT THE COSTS TO THE COMMUNITY OF SUCH A MODEL ARE ENORMOUS, AS IT RESULTS IN DEADLY COMPETITION BETWEEN STATES:  PRODUCTION SEGMENTATION ALLOWS COMPANIES TO HIRE WORKERS WHERE WAGES ARE LOW AND TRADE UNION RIGHTS ARE DISREGARDED, TO POLLUTE WHERE ENVIRONMENTAL STANDARDS ARE THE LOWEST, AND TO PAY TAXES WHERE CORPORATE TAX RATES ARE LOWEST; BUT THEN STATES COMPETE ON TAXES THAT DEPRIVE THEM OF REVENUE, AND MEASURES TO PROTECT WORKERS AND PEOPLE'S HEALTH ARE CHALLENGED IN THE NAME OF PRESERVING INTERNATIONAL COMPETITIVENESS.

THE SEARCH FOR RESILIENCE IS SOMETHING QUITE DIFFERENT: THE AIM IS TO PROMOTE DIVERSITY AT LOCAL LEVEL IN ORDER TO REDUCE DEPENDENCE ON GLOBAL PRODUCTION AND DISTRIBUTION CHANNELS, IN A TERRITORIAL APPROACH WHICH FAVOURS THE LOCAL ECONOMY AND ALSO HAS HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS. THIS IS WHERE WE ARE HEADING, NOT OBVIOUSLY TO CHALLENGE GLOBALISATION AS A WHOLE, BUT TO REBALANCE THINGS, TO CHANGE THE CURSOR POSITION, AND THROUGH THE IMPOSITION OF SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL STANDARDS IN TRADE POLICIES, TO PUT TRADE AT THE SERVICE OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT.

ALTER ECHO: WHETHER THROUGH TEMPORARY UNEMPLOYMENT OR SITUATIONS OF EXTREME POVERTY, THIS HEALTH CRISIS IS LIKELY TO CAUSE A LOT OF SOCIAL DAMAGE, GRAFTING ITSELF ONTO A BREEDING GROUND WHERE SOCIAL INEQUALITIES ARE ALREADY VERY STRONG. WE CAN ALSO SEE THAT THE "ACTIVE SOCIAL STATE" HAS CREATED SOLUTIONS THAT ARE HUMANLY UNTENABLE IN TIMES OF CRISIS. HOW CAN WE AVOID CREATING A SOCIAL BUBBLE AT THE END OF THIS PANDEMIC, A BUBBLE THAT RISKS BEING UNBEARABLE FOR STATES? SOME EVOKE, NOTABLY AMONG ECOLOGISTS, WE THINK OF PHILIPPE DEFEYT, THE IDEA OF A BASIC INCOME...

ODS: THE IDEA OF A BASIC INCOME IS OBVIOUSLY SEDUCTIVE, BASED AS IT IS ON A TRIPLE UNCONDITIONALITY. FIRSTLY, IT IS GRANTED ON A STRICTLY INDIVIDUAL BASIS, REGARDLESS OF THE SITUATION OF THE COHABITANT, THE SINGLE PERSON OR THE HEAD OF THE FAMILY. IT THUS CONTRIBUTES TO THE INDIVIDUALISATION OF SOCIAL RIGHTS AND THUS TO THE RESPECT OF THE PLURALITY OF FAMILY MODELS AND LIFE CHOICES. IT IS GRANTED INDEPENDENTLY OF INCOME, AND THEREFORE SEEMS TO AVOID THE ACCUSATION USUALLY LEVELLED AT SOCIAL ASSISTANCE OR UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS THAT THEY CONSTITUTE "EMPLOYMENT TRAPS". FINALLY, IT IS NOT CONDITIONAL ON THE SEARCH FOR EMPLOYMENT: IT THEREFORE CONTAINS THE PROMISE OF A GRADUAL EXIT FROM A WORK-CENTRED SOCIETY, AND IT SEPARATES THE FIGHT AGAINST POVERTY FROM THE IMPERATIVES OF ECONOMIC GROWTH. IT IS THEREFORE A GENEROUS AND MAGNIFICENT IDEA. HOWEVER, SEVERAL QUESTIONS ARISE, EVEN INDEPENDENTLY OF FINANCING, AS SOON AS WE GO INTO THE DETAILS. WON'T THE BASIC INCOME CONSTITUTE A "WINDFALL EFFECT", LEGITIMIZING THE PROLIFERATION OF PRECARIOUS STATUSES - "MINI-JOBS" IN THE GERMAN STYLE, "ZERO HOUR CONTRACTS" AS IN THE UNITED KINGDOM, OR THE STATUS OF "FALSE INDEPENDENTS" AS IN THE U.K.? ISN'T THERE A DILEMMA BETWEEN FIXING A BASIC INCOME AT SUCH A LOW LEVEL THAT IT DOES NOT REALLY ALLOW FOR A PLURALITY OF LIFE CHOICES (ONE CANNOT LIVE DECENTLY ON 300 OR 400 EUROS PER MONTH), ON THE ONE HAND, OR, ON THE OTHER HAND, FIXING THE BASIC INCOME AT A HIGH LEVEL, WHICH CAN THEN BECOME AN "EMPLOYMENT TRAP", OR AT LEAST HAVE REGRESSIVE IMPACTS FROM A GENDER POINT OF VIEW?

IS THE FUNCTION OF WORK AS A FACTOR OF SOCIAL RECOGNITION NOT UNDERESTIMATED? IT SEEMS TO ME THAT THE URGENT TASK TODAY IS ABOVE ALL TO FIGHT AGAINST ATTEMPTS TO DISMANTLE THE SOCIAL STATE, AND TO ENSURE THAT WE MOVE TOWARDS SOCIAL PROTECTION THAT IS TRULY A SOURCE OF EMANCIPATION. THIS MEANS REVIEWING LEGISLATION SO THAT LIFE CHOICES ARE NOT PENALIZED, BY REVIEWING THE CATEGORIES (SINGLE, COHABITING, ETC.) FOR AN INDIVIDUALIZATION OF SOCIAL RIGHTS. IT ALSO MEANS MOVING TOWARDS A GENERALISED REDUCTION IN WORKING TIME. IT ALSO MEANS FIGHTING AGAINST THE PHENOMENON OF "NON-RECOURSE TO RIGHTS", BECAUSE MANY PEOPLE RECEIVING SOCIAL BENEFITS, BECAUSE OF IGNORANCE OF THEIR RIGHTS OR BECAUSE OF VARIOUS ADMINISTRATIVE OBSTACLES, DO NOT ACTUALLY RECEIVE THE SUPPORT TO WHICH THEY ARE ENTITLED IN PRINCIPLE. FINALLY, THIS IMPLIES ACTIVATING NOT THE SOCIAL RECIPIENT BUT THE COLLECTIVITIES, BY FORCING THEM TO ADOPT PROACTIVE POLICIES FAVOURING ACCESS TO EMPLOYMENT, STARTING FROM THE IDEA OF VALUING THE SKILLS OF EACH INDIVIDUAL AND SUPPORTING FORMS OF WORK THAT ARE NOT "SOLVENT", PARTICULARLY IN THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY, IN THE SOCIAL AND SOLIDARITY ECONOMY, AND IN HELPING PEOPLE - WHICH IS WHAT AN EXPERIENCE SUCH AS THE "TERRITORIES OF LONG-TERM ZERO UNEMPLOYMENT" DOES.

AÉ: WHETHER AT NATIONAL OR EUROPEAN LEVEL, THE FIRST MEASURES HAVE BEEN ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL. EVERYONE AGREES THAT THE URGENCY OF THE SITUATION MADE IT NECESSARY TO TAKE SUCH MEASURES, PUTTING SOCIAL OR ENVIRONMENTAL MEASURES TEMPORARILY ON HOLD. BUT STARTING FROM THIS POINT, ISN'T IT HELPING THE OLD WORLD TO CONTINUE TO FUNCTION, IN A QUEST FOR GROWTH DESPITE EVERYTHING, THINKING THAT THE SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS WILL BE OFFSET SOONER OR LATER?

ODS: THE GREAT RISK IS THAT OF A RETURN TO YESTERDAY'S WORLD. YET, THIS CRISIS IS REALLY OUR LAST CHANCE TO AVOID THE CHAIN OF DISASTERS THAT WILL RESULT IN THE YEARS TO COME FROM THE RUNAWAY CLIMATE SYSTEM AND THE MASSIVE LOSS OF BIODIVERSITY IF WE DO NOT GIVE ABSOLUTE PRIORITY TO THE ECOLOGICAL TRANSITION. I MEASURE MY WORDS: COLLAPSE IS INEVITABLE IF WE DO NOT ENSURE THAT THE ECONOMIC RECONSTRUCTION MEASURES THAT WILL BE PUT IN PLACE TO DEAL WITH THE CRISIS ARE NOT DESIGNED AS A LEVER FOR THIS TRANSITION. WE CAN NO LONGER SEEK ECONOMIC GROWTH AT ALL COSTS AND CONSIDER THAT THE SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS CAN BE COMPENSATED AFTERWARDS, BY REDISTRIBUTING THE "FRUITS OF GROWTH" AND REPAIRING THE DAMAGE TO ECOSYSTEMS; IT IS OUR VERY MODEL OF GROWTH THAT MUST, IN THE PROCESS, TAKE THESE CONSTRAINTS INTO ACCOUNT.

AÉ: EVERYWHERE, WE SAW GESTURES OF SOLIDARITY TOWARDS THE NURSING STAFF OR OTHER PROFESSIONS, OFTEN PRECARIOUS PROFESSIONS. WITH A STRONG WILLINGNESS OF THE POPULATION AT THIS TIME OF CRISIS TO MAKE SOCIETY. PRECISELY, THIS CRISIS HAS REVEALED THE SECTORS THAT ARE ESSENTIAL TO THE SMOOTH RUNNING OF THE COMPANY. WE ARE OBVIOUSLY THINKING OF HEALTH CARE, BUT ALSO OF PUBLIC SERVICES. SECTORS THAT HAVE BEEN HIT HARD OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS...

ODS: THESE ARE INDEED TRADES THAT HAVE LONG BEEN MISUNDERSTOOD OR UNDERESTIMATED, AND WHOSE ESSENTIAL CHARACTER HAS BEEN REVEALED BY THE CRISIS: CARE WORKERS, EARLY CHILDHOOD CARE, GARBAGE COLLECTORS, AGRICULTURAL WORKERS, FOOD PROCESSING AND SUPERMARKET WORKERS, FARMERS PRACTISING LOCAL FARMING AND SELLING THEIR PRODUCE VIA SHORT CIRCUITS OR MORNING MARKETS... THE REMUNERATION OF THESE TRADES IS ABSOLUTELY NOT COMMENSURATE WITH THE SERVICES THEY PROVIDE TO THE COMMUNITY AND THEIR CONTRIBUTION TO RESILIENCE IN THE FACE OF SHOCKS. THIS IS A FURTHER ILLUSTRATION OF THE NEED NOT TO CONFUSE MARKET VALUATION WITH THE REAL VALUE OF THESE TRADES TO THE POPULATION: DAVID GRAEBER, WHO NOTES THAT THE MOST REMUNERATIVE PROFESSIONS ARE OFTEN THE MOST "PARASITIC" OR EVEN THE MOST HARMFUL TO THE COMMUNITY, GOES SO FAR AS TO SUGGEST THAT HIGH WAGES ARE A WAY OF COMPENSATING PEOPLE IN THESE PROFESSIONS FOR THE ILL-BEING THEY EXPERIENCE WHEN THEY ARE AWARE OF THEIR LOW SOCIAL UTILITY, OR EVEN THEIR COMPLICITY WITH THE CONSUMERIST AND EXTRACTIVIST SYSTEM THAT PREPARES THE WORST. BUT THIS CAN BE CHANGED.

BEYOND THE HUMAN DRAMAS, THIS CRISIS HAS ALSO SHOWN THE GESTURES OF SOLIDARITY THAT WE ARE CAPABLE OF; THE UNPRECEDENTED AND RAPID QUESTIONING OF OUR ROUTINES; AND HOW MUCH, IN TIMES OF CRISIS, WE CAN ONCE AGAIN "MAKE SOCIETY", IN ORDER TO CARRY OUT THESE TRANSFORMATIONS TOGETHER. LET US SEIZE THE MOMENT: IN ANY CRISIS THERE IS THE POSSIBILITY OF A METAMORPHOSIS.

AÉ: THE HEALTH CRISIS IS IN DANGER OF TURNING INTO A FOOD CRISIS. YOU CALL FOR RELOCATION TO REGAIN FOOD SOVEREIGNTY. A GOOD CALCULATION FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND THE ECONOMY. THIS IS AN ASPECT THAT IS CURRENTLY LITTLE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT...

ODS: THE QUESTION OF THE RESILIENCE OF OUR FOOD SYSTEMS IS THE BLIND SPOT IN THE CURRENT DEBATES ON THE IMPACTS OF THE HEALTH CRISIS. BUT WHAT DO WE SEE? EXPORT RESTRICTIONS ARE INCREASING: UKRAINE, RUSSIA AND KAZAKHSTAN HAVE ANNOUNCED RESTRICTIONS ON WHEAT, VIETNAM ON RICE, AND OTHER COUNTRIES, INCLUDING EUROPEAN COUNTRIES, ARE FOLLOWING THIS TREND. THIS IS LIKELY TO CREATE PANIC ON THE MARKETS, A KIND OF "ARTIFICIAL" SCARCITY, WHEN THE CURRENT LEVEL OF WORLD RESERVES IS HIGH - WE ARE AT 275 MILLION TONNES OF CEREALS. CONSIDERABLE LOSSES COULD ALSO RESULT FROM DIFFICULTIES IN DISPOSING OF CERTAIN AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS FOLLOWING THE CLOSURE OF SCHOOLS AND CATERING ESTABLISHMENTS : THIS IS WHY THERE ARE CALLS FOR PRIVATE STORAGE OF MEAT AND MILK PRODUCTS, FOR EXAMPLE, BUT THIS IS ONLY A SHORT-TERM SOLUTION. LAST BUT NOT LEAST, AS HARVESTS LOOM, SEVERAL COUNTRIES ARE FINDING IT MOST DIFFICULT TO HAVE SUFFICIENT AGRICULTURAL LABOUR. SPAIN WILL NEED 100,000 AGRICULTURAL WORKERS IN THE NEXT FEW MONTHS, THE NETHERLANDS 150,000, GERMANY 300,000, ETC. WALLONIA'S NEEDS REMAIN LIMITED - ABOUT 1,000 WORKERS NOW FOR THE ASPARAGUS AND STRAWBERRY HARVESTS - BUT IN FLANDERS THE NUMBER OF WORKERS REQUIRED IS ESTIMATED AT 30,000. HOWEVER, THE SEASONAL WORKERS WHO ARE USUALLY BROUGHT IN FROM BULGARIA, ROMANIA OR POLAND ARE STUCK AT HOME. ALL OF THIS SHOWS THE FRAGILITY OF FOOD SYSTEMS THAT DEPEND ON GLOBAL FLOWS, BOTH OF FOOD AND LABOUR. RELOCATING, REGAINING SOME FOOD SELF-SUFFICIENCY, IS ABOUT BUILDING RESILIENCE.

 

 

READ THE ARTICLE ON ALTERECHOS

 

OP-ED

 

 

ONE MORE CRISIS FOR A FINAL WAKE-UP CALL! THE VERY LAST ONE?

ALAIN COHEUR

FINANCIAL, ECONOMIC, SOCIAL, FOOD, MIGRATION, SECURITY, ENVIRONMENTAL ... CRISES ... AND FINALLY ... HEALTH CRISIS, NOT THE FIRST ONE BY FAR. THROUGH THE MARKETING OF FEAR, WE ARE BEING PUSHED FROM ONE CRISIS TO ANOTHER AND THE WORLD IS BEING PUSHED DANGEROUSLY DEEP INTO A CRISIS, DELIBERATELY PARALYSED BY AN UNWILLINGNESS TO FUNDAMENTALLY QUESTION THE ECONOMIC MODEL OF DEVELOPMENT WHICH FOR YEARS HAS GIVEN PRIORITY TO FINANCIAL INTERESTS BY PRIVATIZING ITS PUBLIC SERVICES AND WEAKENING ITS SOCIAL PROTECTION, HAS SEIZED WEALTH FOR THE BENEFIT OF SOME, HAS DISMANTLED THE STATE AND SACRIFICED THE WEAKEST ON THE ALTAR OF AUSTERITY SERVED AS THE RITORNELLO "THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE", HAS UNFOLDED DOGMAS AS SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECIES, AND HAS ATOMIZED THE RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN HUMAN BEINGS TO MAKE THEM COMPULSIVE CONSUMERS OF PLEASURE.

THE SACRIFICED OF TODAY WERE ALREADY THE SACRIFICED OF YESTERDAY: ALL THOSE ANONYMOUS, ALL THOSE PROFESSIONS THAT HAVE BECOME INSIGNIFICANT IN THE EYES OF THE POWERFUL, TRIVIALIZED, LITTLE VALUED OR EVEN DEVALUED ARE NOW IN THE SPOTLIGHT. PROFESSIONS THAT WE HAVE FORGOTTEN ARE ESSENTIAL TO SOCIAL COHESION; PROFESSIONS THAT HAVE FOR YEARS RESISTED THE BLOWS OF PROFITABILITY, PRODUCTIVITY AND ECONOMIC EFFICIENCY; DESPITE THE PROTESTS, DESPITE THE CALLS MADE IN THE FACE OF A STAGGERING, SIDEREAL POLITICAL VACUUM. THESE WORKERS ON THE FRONT LINE OF OUR HEALTH, AND OUR HEALTH SYSTEM, ARE THE NURSES, THE CARETAKERS, THE HOME HELPERS, THE GENERALISTS, THE EDUCATORS, THE PSYCHOLOGISTS, THE CHILDCARE WORKERS, THE SOCIAL WORKERS, ALL THE PROFESSIONALS WHO ACCOMPANY THE SICK, EXCLUDED OR SUFFERING, MARGINALIZED, DEPENDENT, HOMELESS, UNDOCUMENTED...

WE HAVE FORGOTTEN, WE HAVE NEGLECTED THE SENSE OF THE COMMON, THE IMPORTANCE OF THE COMMON GOODS, THOSE THAT UNITE US, THOSE THAT BRING US TOGETHER, THOSE THAT DEFINE US IN OUR HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS, IN OUR EXISTENCE. OUR SOCIETY IS DRIFTING FURTHER BECAUSE IT WAS ALREADY WEAKENED, DELIBERATELY SEGMENTED, DISORIENTED, SURROUNDED BY THE DEADLY SHADOWS OF NATIONALIST AND POPULIST REVIVALS.

THIS HEALTH CRISIS REVEALS ALL THE EXCESSES AND INEQUALITIES OF OUR SOCIETIES: FROM THE STATE AND QUALITY OF OUR HEALTH SYSTEMS TO ACCESS TO HEALTHY HOUSING, HIGHLIGHTING THE PRECARIOUSNESS OF FAMILIES, JOB INSECURITY, INDECENT WAGES UPWARDS FOR SOME AND DOWNWARDS FOR MOST PROFESSIONS, OFTEN IN HIGHLY FEMINISED SECTORS.

AND IT WILL HAVE TAKEN ONLY ONE VIRUS, FED BY THE AVIDITY AND GREED OF SOME, FOR ALL THIS TO BE REVEALED, AND FOR THE WHOLE OF OUR ECONOMY TO BE DESTROYED IN THE SAME MOVEMENT, AND FOR MANY CERTAINTIES TO BE SHAKEN.

FROM THEN ON, BOTH THE POLITICAL AND THE ECONOMIC WORLD WILL BEAR A HEAVY RESPONSIBILITY FOR IMAGINING THE WAY OUT. FOR THERE WILL ONLY BE TWO POSSIBLE OUTCOMES: EITHER WE CONSIDER THIS CRISIS TO BE ONE OF THE HAZARDS WE HAVE TO FACE ON AN AD HOC BASIS AND WE WILL ORGANISE SOCIETY TO RESPOND BETTER TO IT, OR WE RADICALLY CHANGE OUR PERSPECTIVE AND CHOOSE ANOTHER DEVELOPMENT MODEL. "THERE IS AN ALTERNATIVE" POST-HEALTH CRISIS, A NEW DEAL, A NEW SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL PACT WHOSE PILLARS WOULD BE THE VALUES OF SOLIDARITY AND EQUALITY, INSPIRED AMONG OTHER THINGS BY THE SUCCESSES OF THE SOCIAL ECONOMY, PUT INTO PRACTICE BY STRONG GESTURES SUCH AS THE RELOCATION OF OUR PRODUCTION THROUGH SHORT SUPPLY CHAINS, LOCAL AND SECURE, THE CREATION OF JOBS THAT PROVIDE A DECENT INCOME FOR EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US, AND REVITALIZED PUBLIC SERVICES, RECOGNIZED AS ESSENTIAL, CAPABLE OF CARRYING OUT THEIR MISSIONS PROPERLY, UNDER THE AUSPICES OF A SOCIAL AND REGULATORY STATE THAT IS FREE OF FINANCIAL MARKETS.

IF WE MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICE, WE NOT ONLY HAVE A CHANCE TO EXPERIENCE THE "DER DES DER" OF CRISES, BUT ALSO TO CHANGE OUR RELATIONSHIP TO SOCIETY AND ITS ENVIRONMENT. IF WE DO NOT, WE WILL RELIVE THE WORST MOMENTS IN HUMAN HISTORY.

ALAIN COHEUR

CO-PRESIDENT SSE iNTERNATIONAL FORUM

 

OP-ED

 

 

RESPONDING TO CRISES WITH THE "TRIANGLE OF POSSIBILITIES"

THIERRY JEANTET

HOW IRONIC. AT A TIME WHEN FRANCE IS CONFINING ITSELF BECAUSE OF A DEADLY VIRUS, THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC IS RENOUNCING THE IMMEDIATE IMPLEMENTATION OF SOCIAL REFORMS WHICH, ON THE ONE HAND, VIOLENTLY PENALISE THE UNEMPLOYED AND, ON THE OTHER HAND, MAKE THE PENSIONS OF FRENCH CITIZENS BORN AFTER 1976 UNREADABLE. 

 

NEITHER THE YELLOW JACKETS CRISIS NOR THE LONGEST STRIKE IN FRANCE THIS AUTUMN HAD, HOWEVER, PUT AN END TO THESE MEASURES. THE VERY DEVELOPMENT OF THESE MEASURES ONCE AGAIN RAISES THE QUESTION OF DEMOCRACY.

 

WHAT HAS HAPPENED IN FRANCE CAN BE SEEN AT THE INTERNATIONAL LEVEL, WHERE PEOPLE HAVE RECENTLY RISEN UP TO DEMAND MORE RIGHTS, MORE FREEDOMS AND THE ABANDONMENT OF AUSTERITY POLICIES THAT PLUNGE THEM AT LEAST INTO ANGUISHING UNCERTAINTY, AT WORST INTO PRECARIOUSNESS.

 

I HAVE ALWAYS ADVOCATED FRIENDLY REVOLUTION (1) AND MORE DIRECT DEMOCRACY (2). I DEFEND THE IDEA THAT THE SOCIAL ECONOMY SECTOR (WHICH ABSOLUTELY MUST EVOLVE, I COME BACK TO THIS AT GREATER LENGTH IN THIS TEXT: JEANTET-TRIANGLE-DES-POSSIBLES)(3), CAN, THROUGH ITS VALUES AND ITS STATUTES, BE A HEALTHY ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL MODEL IN THIS 21ST CENTURY WHERE GREAT HEALTH FEARS, FEAR OF THE CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENTAL CRISIS AND THE ABANDONMENT OF SOCIAL MODELS INTERSECT.

 

WILL WE SEE THE RETURN OF THE "WELFARE STATE" PRAISED BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC IN A RECENT TELEVISED INTERVENTION ON COVID-19? WILL WE WITNESS THE RETURN OF THE PLAN? IS IT IN THE OLD RECIPES THAT WE WILL BE ABLE TO INVENT THE FUTURE? 

 

I WANT TO BE OPTIMISTIC AND THINK THAT WE WILL COME OUT OF THIS DARK PERIOD, ON ALL CONTINENTS, THANKS TO A COMPLETE REVISION OF THE MOST BRUTAL LIBERAL SCHEMES REJECTED BY THE PEOPLES. 

 

I WANT TO BE OPTIMISTIC AND SHARE THE IDEA THAT THE PRAGMATIC EXPECTATIONS OF CITIZENS CAN CONVERGE WITH A COMPLETE OVERHAUL OF THE WORLD'S DEMOCRATIC AND ECONOMIC SYSTEMS, WITH THE TRIANGLE: SOCIAL-ECOLOGY-DEMOCRACY AS A REFERENCE POINT.

 

THIS TRIANGLE OF CONVERGENCES DEMONSTRATES, AFTER A QUICK OBSERVATION, THAT WE CAN RE-CITIZENSHIP WOMEN AND MEN WORRIED ABOUT THEIR VERY UNCERTAIN FUTURE, WHO DO NOT FIND THEMSELVES IN A 100% DIGITAL SOCIETY, THE FAMOUS "START-UP NATION", PROMOTED BY CANDIDATE MACRON, WHICH THEY PERCEIVE AS LEAVING THEM NO OTHER PLACE THAN THAT OF CONSUMER.

 

I WANT TO BE OPTIMISTIC BECAUSE THERE ARE MODERN SOLUTIONS - ALREADY TRIED AND TESTED - TO GET OUT OF THE RUT. THERE ARE WAYS OF RESTORING CONFIDENCE, OPTIMISM AND SHARED GOALS OF SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION FOR A DECENT LIFE IN A SUSTAINABLE WORLD. 

 

BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT IS AT STAKE: ENABLING EVERYONE TO LIVE A DECENT LIFE. ISN'T THIS NOT AT THE HEART OF HUMAN RIGHTS? ISN'T IT MORE ESSENTIAL THAN SERVING THE INTERESTS OF AN OFTEN RAPACIOUS GLOBALIZED FINANCIAL CASTE? ISN'T IT TIME, AT A TIME WHEN THE STOCK MARKET IS SHAKING ON ITS OWN FOUNDATIONS, TO RETHINK WEALTH, MODES OF EXCHANGE, THE VERY MEANING OF PROPERTY, BY RESTORING THE NOTION OF POPULAR SHARING THROUGH NEW EQUITIES?

 

THIS IS THE TIME TO DARE, HERE AND NOW, TO NO LONGER BE SATISFIED WITH TRANSITIONS, TO GIVE A NEW LEASE OF LIFE TO THE GREAT DEMOCRACIES, EUROPEAN BUT NOT ONLY.

 

YES, EUROPE IS GOING BADLY, THIS EUROPE THAT HAS MOVED AWAY FROM THE PEOPLE IS GOING BADLY. THE EUROPE THAT NEEDS TO BE REBUILT NOW MUST AFFIRM ITS VALUES AS THEY WERE COURAGEOUSLY ASSERTED IN FRANCE DURING THE REVOLUTION OF 1789.

 

YES, THE WORLD IS GOING BADLY, WE MUST NOW RETHINK THE ORGANISATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS ORGANISATION (UNO) AND PROVIDE IT WITH THE MEANS TO MAKE IT A FORMIDABLE TOOL FOR THE BETTERMENT OF HUMANITY.

 

WE MUST TAKE BETTER ACCOUNT - TOGETHER - OF SOCIAL, ECONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL INDICATORS THAT CAN BE SHARED AT NATIONAL, EUROPEAN AND GLOBAL LEVEL. 

 

I AM NOT NAÏVE. I KNOW THE POWER OF MONEY AND THE NEED TO CIRCULATE IT, BUT WE MUST DO IT DIFFERENTLY BY REALLY INVOLVING, ONCE AND FOR ALL, ALL THE PLAYERS WHO MAKE IT POSSIBLE TO CREATE A SOLID, LASTING FOUNDATION FOR OUR COMMON WEALTH.

 

WE CAN DO THIS AT ALL LEVELS, FROM THE CLOSEST TO THE FURTHEST AWAY. IN MY ATTACHED TEXT, I REFER TO GLOBAL, POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC GOVERNANCE, BUT I ALSO DISCUSS THE DAY-TO-DAY ISSUES, THOSE ON WHICH WE CAN NOW, EACH IN OUR OWN PLACE, TAKE ACTION. RELATIONS BETWEEN LOCAL AND REGIONAL AUTHORITIES - WHICH ARE ESSENTIAL, AS WE CAN SEE FROM THE CRISIS - AND THE STATE MUST BE RENEWED. DECENTRALISATION CAN AND MUST CONTINUE IN THE INTERESTS OF THE POPULATION. THE DRASTIC CUTS MADE BY VARIOUS GOVERNMENTS IN THE BUDGETS OF LOCAL AUTHORITIES MUST BE SHELVED. NEW PARTNERSHIPS MUST ALSO BE BUILT BETWEEN URBAN AND RURAL AREAS: TERRITORIES CANNOT BE ALLOWED TO IGNORE OR BE JEALOUS OF EACH OTHER. LOCAL AUTHORITIES HAVE SHOWN POSSIBLE WAYS FORWARD. LET US TAKE THEM! 

 

THE SAME GOES FOR SO-CALLED "INTERMEDIARY" BODIES AND GOVERNMENT. TRADE UNIONS OR ASSOCIATIONS ARE NOT JUST TRANSMISSION BELTS. BY LISTENING TO THEM, OR MORE PRECISELY BY HEARING THEM, THE WHOLE COUNTRY WILL BENEFIT. EVERYONE WILL BE USEFUL IN RETHINKING THE QUESTION OF TIME, ACTIVITY AND PUBLIC SERVICES.

 

AND OF COURSE, WE MUST FIND THE TOOLS OF CONVERGENCE TO REINVENT OUR INSTITUTIONAL SYSTEM AND GOVERN RELATIONS BETWEEN CITIZENS AND THEIR REPRESENTATIVES MORE EFFICIENTLY.

 

I AM NOT CALLING FOR A COMFORTABLE TRANSITION. WE ARE IN AN ERA OF CHANGEOVER, ALL THE SIGNS, ALL THE DAMAGE IS THERE TO SHOW. THE PRESSURE IS MOUNTING AND FORCING US. THE LONGER WE DELAY, THE MORE IT WILL BE DONE UNDER DURESS AND AT THE RISK OF VIOLENCE. 

 

OBSERVATIONS ARE ACCUMULATING, ALERTS ARE SOUNDING, SO WE MUST DARE AND ACT, CONVERGE, COLLECTIVELY BY BEING FRIENDS OF HUMANS AS WELL AS OF THE EARTH. BY PUTTING THE TRIANGLE: SOCIAL-ECOLOGY-DEMOCRACY AT THE HEART OF ACTION.

 

LET'S DISCUSS IT! 

 

 

 

(1)  SEE LA REVOLUTION CONVIVIALE, BY T. JEANTET, M. PORTA, J.R. SIEGFRIED, ED. ENTENTE, 1979. 

(2) DIRECT DEMOCRACY, MODERN DEMOCRACY, BY T. JEANTET, ENTENTE, 1991.

(3) https://blogs.alternatives-economiques.fr/system/files/inline-files/Jeantet-Triangle-des-Possibles.pdf

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