Spending, yes, but on what?
Yes, a sovereign government always spends and thus creates money. Modern monetary theory (MMT) is a version of Keynesian policies and its popularity is welcome (Mike Seccombe, “Could Frydenberg ease this crisis by printing money?”, August 1-7). But a central bank needs reasons to “monetise” government and bank debt more than usual. Debt must be on solid, well-paid, job-creating ventures (health, environment) to make monetising worthwhile. Banks spend on speculative bubbles via a low wage regime and today’s state spends on tax cuts, slashing red/green tape, military hardware and favoured electorates. Hardly “worthwhile” for a sensible central bank.
– Jocelyn Pixley, Paddington, NSW
An area worth exploring
Excellent reporting by Rick Morton (“Lost function: Long-term consequences of surviving coronavirus”, August 1-7) on the multiple effects of Covid-19. It shows an impressive command of published research on the subject and a rare access to scientific legends such as Peter Doherty. The science of this virus unfortunately is still too young and many aspects are unknown at this stage. Still, I am baffled by the lack of consideration for a branch of immunology that must have a bearing on this disease: mucosal immunity. It functions distinctly at the level of the mucosae – respiratory and intestinal, for example – and this could be important for some of the neurological effects observed. Both the nose and the gut have mucosae that affect local immunity. Both are intimately connected with the central nervous system and may provide a path for antiviral immune factors that could lead to inflammation in the brain. Why is this well-known association not explored in the context of Covid-19?
– Alex Pucci, Mosman, NSW
Open everything to discussion
In Richard Denniss’s article “The true cost of a traumatised nation” (August 1-7) we have been systematically introduced to many of the variables that need to be “heard” in any modelling or dialogue upon which the Australian and state governments might rely to make decisions about the management of Covid-19. Instead of reduction to simple “binaries” of who (workers or elderly?) or what (budget in the black or human wellbeing?) should survive the pandemic, there need to be experts – including economists – from every relevant field who have a legitimate voice in the decision-making. Mikhail Bakhtin, a Russian thinker who was exiled for his thoughts, wrote a very useful adage relevant to Covid-19 management: “All true understanding is dialogic in nature.” So maybe, just maybe, the Australian government might consider letting all the variables (livelihoods, human wellbeing, trauma fallout, economy, science, sociology, psychology, medicine, epidemiology et cetera) be heard in a “non-binary” dialogue about the health and wellbeing of Australia as we move through this pandemic. Thanks, Richard Denniss and The Saturday Paper, for letting dialogue rip instead of allowing foregone conclusions to dominate.
– Julie A. Hollitt, Bawley Point, NSW
Change for good
Last week’s excellent issue – including Richard Denniss’s skewering of the open-up-and-let-them-die breed of economists and pundits, and Mike Seccombe’s demolition of trickle-down economics – illustrated the myopic vision of those who seek to screw the vulnerable, the precariat and the environment as part of a post-pandemic recovery. The economic and social crises triggered by the pandemic have prepared the ground for a transformative agenda that serves human and environmental needs rather than the dictates of capital. Quality journalism is crucial at this time to help shape the debate about where we go from here. What happens next will determine whether we will have a just and sustainable future.
– Angela Smith, Clifton Hill, Vic
“The turning point” (Editorial, August 1-7) was spot on. Back in 2005, Tom Calma was pushing for targets to “close the gap”. Three years later he succeeded in getting the targets. But still, many more years later, nothing has happened. Kevin Rudd made his momentous apology to Indigenous people in 2008 and still nothing happened. Following prime minsters did nothing. Pat Turner, convener of the Indigenous organisations, said, “The national agreement represents a turning point in our country’s efforts to close these gaps.” Now Scott Morrison has said there will be no new money and his government has rejected a change to laws that would stop 10-year-olds being locked up. What does the first Indigenous Australian appointed to cabinet, Ken Wyatt, have to say?
– Susan Munday, Bentleigh East, Vic
I’m afraid your new design has inadvertently increased the difficulty of The Cryptic. Solutions are much harder to find if one is unable to pause to embellish Mungo’s image with cartoon glasses, elaborate hats, bushier beards and all manner of alien body parts.
– Gavin Dixon, Croydon Hills, Vic
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on August 8, 2020.
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