Interesting letter from Michael Bassey [emeritus professor] in today's Guardian:
Noting that the economy "has flatlined for almost a year", you report that "Cameron sets up defences ahead of storm over [lack of] growth" (26 July). Instead of fighting it, isn't it time that government, opposition and trade unions began to plan how to flatline with social justice?
An end to economic growth? Yes, inevitable. In 2000 the Labour government set up a Sustainable Development Commission. In 2009 Professor Tim Jackson, a member of this SDC, produced the report Prosperity Without Growth. He wrote: "Every society clings to a myth by which it lives. Ours is the myth of economic growth … It's totally at odds with our scientific knowledge of the finite resource base and the fragile ecology on which we all depend for survival." The SDC was closed by the government in March.
There are plenty of ideas around on how to flatline: a citizen's income to protect those without work; a take-home pay differential of one to 10 (severe taxation of the opulent) to cut the deficit; a four-day week for most workers to share around the available work; community development to protect the vulnerable aged and infirm; a massive development of allotments to move towards self-sufficiency in food; energy reduction policies like "the more you use, the greater the unit charge" to move towards self-sufficiency in energy; and all this supported by adult education via the media that explains the dire predicament of "a finite resource base" and "fragile ecology".
These measures would disrupt the lives of most of us, especially the well-to-do, but they would prepare us for the grave uncertainties of the near future – and give meaning to the prime minister's claim that "we are all in this together".