2 April 2020

Tim Dunlop: “One of things we have to unlearn in the wake of the coronavirus moment is the idea of what we might call efficiency, as both an economic goal and a social philosophy. Much of the logic of our current economic systems is based on the idea that if we can cut the ‘fat’ out of the way in which corporations and, just as importantly, governments operate, we will end up with much more efficient systems and we will all be better off. The idea has some appeal, even some merit, in good times, but it is ultimately a false god. When a crisis inevitably appears, our worship of efficiency, no matter how well it may have seemed to be working in the good times, leaves us ill-prepared for the bad times. … [W]e actually need to build some fat into the system so that it is better insulated when the inevitable shock, or crisis, comes. … We have to presume that risk, at varying levels, is inherent in any system as complex as an economy or a society, and we therefore need, to some extent, to act in the good times as if we were living in bad times, even if that means governments can’t be as efficient market theory demands. Because if we think COVID-19 has brought the world to its knees, what exactly do we think climate change is going to do?”