The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear. (Antonio Gramsci)
by Jayati Ghosh
Part 7 - Social and Economic Rights
Social policy – the public responsibility for meeting social and economic rights of citizens – contributes positively to both growth and development. This means especially the provision of universal good quality care services, funded by the state, with care workers properly recognised, remunerated and provided with decent working conditions.
This also helps to reduce gender and other social inequalities generated by the imposition of unpaid care work, and has strong multiplier effects that allow for more employment increases over time and generate a ‘bubbling up’ of economic activity.
There must be conscious attempts to reduce economic inequalities, both between and within countries. We have clearly crossed the limits of what is ‘acceptable’ inequality in most societies, and policies will have to reverse this trend. Globally and nationally, we must reduce inequalities in income and wealth, and most significantly in the consumption of natural resources.
This is even more complicated than might be imagined because unsustainable patterns of production and consumption are deeply entrenched in richer countries and are aspired to in developing countries. But many millions of citizens of the developing world still have poor or inadequate access to the most basic conditions of decent life, such as electricity, transport and communication links, sanitation, health, nutrition and education.
Ensuring universal provision across the global South will inevitably require greater per capita use of natural resources and more carbon-emitting production.
Both sustainability and equity therefore require a reduction of the excessive resource use of the rich, especially in developed countries but also among the elites in the developing world. This means that redistributive fiscal and other economic policies must be especially oriented towards reducing inequalities of resource consumption, globally and nationally.
Within countries, for example, essential social and developmental expenditure can be financed by taxes that penalise resource-wasteful expenditure.