13 March 2020

While the AFR is advising its parasitic readership on how to profit from the coronavirus crisis, John Quiggin hopes the broader public will rethink some of the conventional so-called wisdom of recent decades: “Looking ahead, the crisis response should kill off not only the idea that a surplus is the hallmark of responsible economic management, but also the absurdity of extending the standard four-year forward estimates period to ten-year projections, which formed the basis of tax cuts legislated years ahead of time. As the current crisis and the global financial crisis have shown, even an annual budget can be derailed by an unforeseen shock. Attempting to fix policies ten years in advance is a fools’ errand. More broadly, this is yet another instance in which policies influenced by the market ideology that took hold in the 1970s has damaged us. The economic impacts of coronavirus will be made worse by the casualisation of the workforce and the decades-long freeze on Newstart and other welfare payments. A modern society can only function properly with a strong government and a commitment to looking after everybody. Perhaps the enforced isolation we are likely to face in the coming months will give us time to rethink.”