Corona has exposed many weaknesses, including our lack of health care system capability. It has also opened up some possibilities for permanent changes for example as people start to appreciate the reduction in noise, how the air is better, etc.
Covid has shown us that we are all in this together. It is as a whole we can progress, to quote the Sustanable Development Goals , no one left behind. The current system is fundamentally flawed at a basic level because its very construction leaves people behind and obfuscates how people – including the organisations we have created -really are in this all together.
It only takes a drop in demand for companies to begin laying off workers, starting a downturn spiral where those laid off have no money to buy from the companies still operating. And a lack of components — from a virus stricken-supplier — can be enough to stop production, halt sales and again land the company in trouble.
Private-run companies may function well in times of economic stability, but under crisis they experience internal stress and are unable to provide the goods needed. Indeed, they are unable to offer jobs, which are the cornerstone of the modern society.
The crisis has also highlighted an important role for the nation-state: a duty of care to all living in the nation.
To help understand the complexity of a high-level system map of flows of money, information, work and goods might help. It shows the 21 relationiships between money flows, resource flows and types of organisation in the system.
A new relationship is needed at step 8 and 9: the relationship between the organisations that provide what citizens need and the pool of resources that are available to the national government.
Enter the Continuity Agency
A Continuity Agency works in various forms of Private-Public-Citizen Partnership to provide capital and staff to core producers. If core producers cannot pay staff then their wages are covered by a basic income guarantee.
The continuity agency is also responsible for the stewardship of key mineral and living material resources, including stewardship responsibilities as part of continuity agreements. (3, 11.)
The aim of the agency is to make sure that essential goods and services reach citizens at prices they can afford. It is also the task of the agency to preserve and repurpose the built, social and human capital that the troubled firms represent. The diagram below shows how the continuity agency can engage with a firm that is in difficulty due to the pandemic or another root cause.
Having identified the possibilites to transform, the agency:
- provides workers and pays their wages as part of a basic income guarantee if needed
- puts the products into the rationing system to ensure production volumes and prices meet expectations
- provides any funding needed for infrastrucuture
- puts in place a volume guarantee to match the rationing requirements
- ensures that production stewards natural capital
Trouble company – troubled workers.
The Continuity Agency could also set up a national employment agency. This would be an organisation that employed anyone who wanted, and these employees would be allocated to companies in the way a temporary worker agency works today.
Should that person’s services no longer be required, they will return to the income guarantee. Indeed, if there are organisations doing essential work that con not afford a worker but need one, workers could be allocated to the firm by the Agency.
The employment agency creates security of employment for workers and provides workers where core services are under-staffed.
Identifying the desired outcome of a resilient society
The main challenge is to provide basic needs for as long as the crisis continues. Using the light shed by the current CONVID-19 pandemic, we can start by simply identifying the systemic desired outcomes needed to achieve a society with a base resilience and stability. These outcomes could look like the following:
- Stabilization of incomes where citizens have enough to cover their basic needs
- A flexible workforce that can be deployed in, for example, health care, social care, environmental damage control and even employed in the transition to a more robust and resilient society
- Affordable housing
- A stable financial system based on real estate and financial assets
- Ensuring continuity for firms and their transition to the sustainable economy
- Redress the lack of resilience that causes the risk
- A national boundary approach to provision of the basics: production and rationing.
To read more about the concept of a continuity agency and the other government bodies needed to work with it, visit the discussion paper available on Researchgate.