Baroness Jenny Jones tackles the idea of economic growth in a debate on the government’s economic plans. “Many of those opposite sound like an anti-renewables coalition. Or even an anti-science coalition.”
Economic growth tells us very little of value. Cutting down a forest would give us economic growth, yet we would lose everything that the forest does to provide oxygen, water, flood management, recreation, and habitat.
I am pro growth in the right place and of the right sort.
We would do much better to focus on measuring the health and happiness of our population, the quality of our environment, and the greenhouse gas emissions that we produce. We need clean rivers and clean air. Where those things improve, we are succeeding as a society.
The government has a mantra that growth is good for everyone – this idea that we “grow the pie” rather than share the pie out differently. That’s really been disproven by decades of stagnating wages while the super-rich take the vast majority of the growing pie.
Differences in wealth have increased dramatically since the Conservative were elected in 2010. We have more billionaires than ever before and more foodbanks. More people have second homes, while many more struggle to find any kind of permanent home. Our CEOs get higher and higher pay, while life expectancy for the poorest citizens goes into decline. Criminals thrive as public services like the police and criminal justice system have been cut, yet we now face another round of austerity. Bankers get bonuses and the rest of us get larger bills. It was a government elected to level up, but the business as usual, leveling down is going on faster than ever.
We need a wealth tax to pay for home insulation for those living in poor housing. We need a windfall tax and a Universal Basic Income scheme to get us through the winter.