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The Coronavirus Economy NEEDS a Guaranteed Basic Income NOW!

by John Brian Shannon

Well, it appears that Coronavirus returned with a vengeance this week, just as I predicted.

The reasons for it’s return are both simple and complicated, and those reasons are; ONE: In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic Western governments sat around waiting for someone to tell them what to do, and when someone didn’t, they sat some more, allowing the Novel Coronavirus to spread to thousands of people, who then infected many more thousands of people.

Mind you, once medical professionals told Western governments that Coronavirus represented an existential threat to their countries, they moved quickly to direct citizens towards healthier choices such as ‘social distancing’ and the wearing of PPE’s whenever they left their homes and only essential service workers were permitted to travel to and from work. Both modalities were surprisingly effective in reducing further airborne transmission of the disease.

TWO: A good example of the complete lack of personal responsibility shown by some is represented in the photo below, taken only days ago when the COVID-19 alert threshold was lowered (slightly) and thousands of people (who obviously AREN’T healthcare professionals) mobbed the beaches, disregarding the recently relaxed Coronavirus social distancing rules.

Bournemouth beaches, Coronavirus, UK

Bournemouth beaches under slightly relaxed lockdown rules. Image courtesy of SkyNews.

Consequently, the huge sacrifice made by millions of Britons staying home under lockdown for two months may be in vain!

And many may now catch the disease and perhaps die because a number of Britons lacked the personal discipline to adhere to the (recently relaxed) Coronavirus social distancing requirements!

Let’s hope it turns out that by sheer dumb luck only small numbers of Britons will subsequently catch the disease and suffer or even die on account of the irresponsible actions of those beach going Britons.


Why the UK Needs a Guaranteed Basic Income for the Coronavirus Economy

Due to initially slow response by Western governments (but see the effective response to COVID-19 mounted by South Korea here) and due to the lack of discipline shown by some Britons, it looks like Coronavirus is here to stay for the next two years. At least.

Not only that, but there WILL BE another COVID variant arising this year or next that may prove deadlier than the present Coronavirus pathogen. It’s typical of respiratory viruses that they mutate and those mutations often become more effective at terminating the lives they infect. ‘Nature of the beast’ as they say in virology labs around the world.

So, the economy can’t continue to be locked down and survive Coronavirus indefinitely. It needs real money to be earned, spent, taxed, and reinvested in the whole economy every day of the year.

Consequently, when large numbers of people aren’t working during the COVID-19 lockdown, money stops flowing and businesses begin to die. And that’s terrible for the economy. And it’s even more terrible for individuals who live from paycheque to paycheque as their cash and ‘fridge contents dwindle for as long as the crisis continues.

That’s why it’s no surprise that many headed to the beach over the past few days to gain respite from the living hell they experienced over the past weeks.

See how things are so connected? Demographers see it everyday.



To stabilize the economy and to prevent irreparable harm to persons during this and future Coronavirus lockdowns, the UK needs to institute a Guaranteed Basic Income

Handing huge amounts of taxpayer money to corporations isn’t the answer, as 50% will always and automatically be skimmed-off to add to annual profits and be thence distributed to shareholders — many of whom AREN’T UK citizens, don’t pay taxes in the UK, and may never live in the UK. Which isn’t any kind of pathway forward for the UK economy. So forget that plan.

Putting real money in the hands of Britons is the way forward, especially during times of lockdown, high unemployment, war, or natural disaster. By simply paying adults a minimum income, they can afford to eat, keep the lights on, and keep hope alive for their families for the duration of any crisis or emergency.

Many such facilities already exist in the UK, including all social welfare and Universal Credit spending, food banks, homeless shelters, substance abuse organizations, local charities, domestic NGO’s and foreign NGO’s operating in the UK during the pandemic.

What a GBI means to the UK economy is that all social welfare and charity gets rolled into one payments system — thereby eliminating the many parallel and overlapping programmes that were designed with the best of intentions to, (1) mitigate the effects of poverty on Britons, and (2) alleviate the sudden and unexpected poverty caused by local crises or national emergency.

It means keeping people alive until the crisis has passed (yes, it’s that dire in many cases) so that Britons can then pick up and carry on with their lives after the crisis and once again contribute to the wider economy.


Who Should Get It?

Every adult UK citizen (including senior citizens) who live in the bottom economic quintile and (a) thereby earn less than the annual official national poverty line (about £20,000/yr in the UK) or (b) any adult UK citizen temporarily affected by local crises such as flooding, or national crises such as pandemic, war, or other emergency situations that cause them real hardship; e.g. no money to buy food or find shelter, should automatically be eligible to receive GBI payments.

Non-citizens shouldn’t be eligible for a UK GBI, but should be able to (easily) access enough funds from the UK government to safely transport them back to their country of origin, allowing them to return to their home country until the crisis is over. E.g. A one-time payment of £1250.


How to Pay GBI to Citizens

The best way to pay a Guaranteed Basic Income to UK citizens is, of course, the easiest way. And that is via a reverse income tax, which simply means the UK government issues a monthly credit to individuals via their personal HM Revenue and Customs account to top-up their income to £1250/mo. for as long as they earn less than the official annual poverty line amount in the UK.

As HMRC knows exactly how much you earn due to your most recent income tax form, it’s a simple matter for them to credit your HMRC account to top you up to £1250 for that month and transfer it to your bank account via online banking. Some people may choose to allow HMRC to do this automatically, while others may wish to manually log in to their HMRC account to choose the date they want their GBI deposited into their bank account.

Some may wish to have their GBI payment deposited to their PayPal account. That should be OK too.


UK GBI: Reducing Government Overhead Costs, Supporting Low Income Britons, and Supporting Britons Hit by Natural Disasters/Pandemic, Etc.

Instead of today’s many overlapping and expensive government programmes, some with HUGE overhead costs, a single-payer system would put more actual money in the hands of Britons living below the official poverty line at a lower cost to taxpayers, and to more easily assist Britons during emergencies, again, at a lower cost to taxpayers.

How could it cost less when even more people are likely to receive a GBI, than presently receive Universal Credit?

By eliminating the many costly and overlapping anti-poverty programmes using the single-payer system (HMRC’s payments system) and by dramatically reducing homelessness, drug abuse, property crimes, policing costs, court costs, incarceration costs, mental health costs, and reducing NHS cost of (repeatedly) caring for homeless people or (repeatedly) caring for those injured while engaging in property crimes offences, or who (repeatedly) engage in confrontations with law enforcement, due to the nature of the poverty-stricken life they lead.

Read: Canada’s forgotten universal basic income experiment — BBC Worklife


A UK GBI Improves the UK’s ‘Velocity of Money’ and Therefore, the Whole Economy!

Economists call the speed of the transfer of money from one person to another, the ‘velocity of money’ and it’s a fascinating thing to examine. But to explain it properly, a short video is required to demonstrate how relatively small amounts of money can revolutionize a village, town, city, or rural area…

Now, for a more detailed look at the velocity of money, see Doug Andrew’s excellent example on the topic of how money really works, which refers directly to the ‘velocity of money’ — also known as MV = Py to economists.

FYI – All these examples are sans tax as they’re simple examples designed to demonstrate how velocity of money works.

But in the case of government stimulus — whether government stimulus paid to corporations (a corporate subsidy, or corporate welfare) or paid to individuals as part of a GBI (a personal subsidy, or personal welfare) every dollar or pound sterling of that stimulus (subsidy) returns to the government via taxation within 11-years — and the government is only ‘out’ by the amount of interest paid on the money they injected into the economy 11-years prior. And that’s why you pay taxes…

By the way, your taxes don’t pay for the full amount that the government lends to the economy, you’re paying tax to cover the interest on the money the government lends to the economy. If it wasn’t done this way (so-called ‘Cost of Use’ of money) your taxes would be much higher.

Therefore, British taxpayers don’t pay the full cost of social welfare programmes via taxation, they only pay the interest on the amount loaned to the economy by the government over that 11-year period.

Now, here’s a secret: Since I took my economics education (U.S.A. circa 1991) that 11-year repayment statistic has decreased to 4.3-years (U.S.A. stat roughly similar to the UK statistic) because the velocity of money has increased so dramatically since then. Ask any economist.

Therefore, the huge cost of homelessness, property crimes, policing costs, court costs, incarceration costs, property and vehicle insurance costs, medical costs, etc., to the economy will always be many times more… than the cost of 4.3-years worth of interest payments on money loaned to the economy by the government to solve those problems! Which means, that after 4.3-years (or thereabouts) the British taxpayer should be in for a tax break — courtesy of the GBI and a much better velocity of money factor. All of which equals a booming economy.

Conclusion: It’s cheaper to pay citizens a GBI than it is to pay for the huge costs of poverty on individuals and on the whole economy!

I love economics. Have a great day everyone!

The End of Bricks and Mortar Stores is Nigh as Online Shopping Enters a New Era in The Coronavirus Economy

by John Brian Shannon

Those who fail to change with the times become obsolete. Just ask the dinosaurs.

Some dinosaur groups morphed into new species that allowed them to continue to live and procreate in a changed environment and we see examples of them today in our world; Today’s birds are descended from Pterodactyls, today’s crocodiles from Stegosaurus, and today’s kimono lizards are descended from Squamata (Megachirella wachtleri) which is the father of all lizards and snakes on the planet today.

The species that didn’t adapt quickly to the then-changing conditions on the Earth, died. And the ones that did change, changed slowly, consequently they exist on the Earth in smallish populations unlike their ancestors which had until then, enjoyed total dominance on this world.

If science isn’t your thing, you might look to anthropology (the study of human societies and cultures and their development) for some examples of this rule and you’ll see those that couldn’t adapt got left behind.

One example of this is the Indus Valley civilization which flourished from 7000 to 1900 BC. Although we see traces of their existence in archaeological sites, they are no more. Another example would be the Mongol civilization (1206 to 1294 AD) Seen any lately? More recently, we witnessed the end of the German Nazi Party circa 1945.


Prediction: Businesses that Don’t Learn to Sell Online (Successfully) Will Fail within 24-Months – Everywhere on Earth

Any retail store — including grocery stores — that don’t evolve quickly enough to meet the demands of the new ‘Coronavirus economy’ are sure to fail. And I have no sympathy for them. None whatsoever. ‘Change with the times or die’ is the nature of all commerce.

There’s no excuse good enough to not have a robust internet e-commerce site and multiple redundant delivery systems for your business, as every business owner knows about the internet, everyone knows how e-commerce websites work, and they’re not that expensive to create.

Indeed, you may have purchased something online, whether it was a hat, golf balls, or enough furnishings to equip your new office tower. (The link points to STAPLES.UK which has a sophisticated website that makes it easy to order any business related product or service quickly and efficiently. With STAPLES.UK shipping is free on orders over £36 and in most cases you receive your order within a couple of days of ordering) That’s the kind of commitment required to meet customer expectations in the new Coronavirus economy thereby allowing those businesses to thrive and prosper well into the 21st-century.

It isn’t difficult to create and maintain an online e-commerce presence. Yes, it takes a little work, but nothing too onerous. And yes, it does cost a little money to set up and operate, but again, those costs should be considered as part of the normal cost of doing business in the 21st-century.

It’s nothing but utter laziness if your company isn’t selling at least fifty per cent of its goods or services online in the 21st-century. It’s so easy to do. But it needs true leadership — which isn’t about nice-sounding speeches in shareholder meetings or at the company Christmas Party — it’s about the kind of leadership that gets it done by the end of the year, not by the end of the company, if you take my meaning.

If you think things haven’t changed profoundly, you’re not looking hard enough.

Many businesses want to get you into their store so you’ll be tempted to purchase so-called ‘impulse buy’ items — things you wouldn’t normally buy, but because you walked past an appealing display you were tempted to purchase. If your business model depends on that you’re already halfway to insolvency, because whether you like it or not, the old ways of doing business are already gone. Not next month, not next year, but now.

The old days of people milling around at the weekend and walking into your store by chance and buying things are over. The Coronavirus economy is here, and it isn’t going away. Ever.

Many people will catch the Coronavirus bug over the coming months and the ones that don’t die of it will become immune to that strain of the virus. We’re presently at COVID-19 (SARS Coronavirus 2019 variant) and there will no doubt be a COVID-20 (Coronavirus 2020 variant) and a COVID-21, and a COVID-22, etc., until the end of time.

“There are three to five emerging diseases every year, and only by luck and the grace of God that they don’t turn into pandemics each time.”William Karesh, Executive Vice President for Health and Policy at EcoHealth Alliance

At the moment, COVID-19 is killing one to two per cent of those who contract the virus. But that’s a temporary situation until the virus mutates (and all viruses mutate) whereupon it will become more deadly — and those who’ve contracted COVID-19 may, I repeat may, have some immunity to a newer version of the virus. Fifty per cent immunity is typical among SARS virus survivors when a new version comes along, but you still get ill, and you still ‘go down’ for a few days, and you can still pass the new variant to others who breathe the same air as you. And the same holds true among MERS survivors.

In fact, I suggest that perhaps later this year, there will be people who haven’t yet caught the COVID-19 variant (and therefore have no immunity to subsequent COVID versions) and may contract a (likely more serious) COVID-20 version (which has yet to appear) and die within days or hours of contracting that new and more robust virus.

There will be people who contract both COVID versions at the same time, sorry to say.

There will be people who haven’t caught either variant and they will be ‘sitting ducks’ by simply walking into a store or subway landing with hundreds of other people, and thereby catch one or both viruses in the same week. And there will be people who catch the normal flu and while their immune system is barely coping with that, they’ll catch one or more SARS or MERS respiratory illnesses. They won’t last long and they’ll know it from Day One.

And that’s why most people will choose to dramatically and permanently alter their shopping habits, gravitating towards online shopping — instead of them playing Russian Roulette with their life every time they walk into a store or onto a train platform. Once people comprehend the enormity of the Coronavirus economy and the implications thereof, the ‘bricks & mortar store’ model will be dead.

Now, if you’re a serious fly fisherman or fly fisherwoman (for example) you’ll need to visit a bricks & mortar store at some point to do a few casts with a selection of rods and reels before you decide which one to purchase. Other situations may apply, as not everything can be easily purchased online.

In the near-future, well-managed stores will sell MORE goods and services online than they do now from all sources combined — and their staff will deal elusively with the Fed Ex driver and perhaps one in-store customer per day who needs to try out that rod and reel combination, or who needs to try-on that dress before purchasing.

Some stores will prosper as never before — and the ones that don’t accept a new business model will fail. Just as it should be.


Lead, Follow, Or Get Out of the Way!

If you’re a business owner presently without a robust online e-commerce site, it’s time to pick up that phone today and get a new e-commerce website built. Otherwise, you’re gone by the end of the year, IMHO.

The retail world is about to change more profoundly than at any time since the first electrical grids appeared, when grid-powered heat and light in stores suddenly allowed workers the opportunity to shop at the end of their workday.

Some of you already and clearly see this new paradigm, some will realize it in the coming weeks, and some will cling to their horse and buggy thinking until the day they reach the Pearly Gates.

Regardless of when you see it, or whether you like it or not, change is coming to the retail world. Better get ready, as it’s going to get rough for businesses that don’t evolve to meet the demands of the new Coronavirus economy.


Related Articles:

  • World Health Organization Coronavirus Situation Reports webpage (WHO)
  • World Health Organization Situation report 25 March 2020 available here