10am–noon, Saturday 20 June 2020

Is it time to completely rethink how we deal with unemployment? We face a tsunami of job losses not seen in generations. The damage could be immense, especially if the devastation of people, regions and entire communities becomes entrenched. Many still haven’t recovered from the 1980s restructuring.
Two ideas — social insurance and a job guarantee — are gaining prominence as ways that could fundamentally change how we deal with the problem. One is intended to provide income protection for those who lose employment, the other aims for something bolder: the elimination of unemployment.
In this Zoom meetup, Dr Michael Fletcher of Victoria University of Wellington and Dr Bill Cochrane of the University of Waikato join us to explain and examine our options for change in these extraordinary times.

Over 350 people registered for this webinar with Dr Geoff Bertram on Saturday May 23. He started by debunking the dominant austerity narrative which says that government spending resulting in deficits must mean either borrowing or  "money-printing", which respectively either is a "burden on future generations", or inevitably leads to hyperinflation. That leads to a confusing argument that it is a strong Crown balance sheet with relatively low debt that provides fiscal space to increase spending. But it is Covid, not low Crown debt, that has opened up the fiscal space.

These are extraordinary times. COVID-19 is changing the world as we know it.

In the light of the Ministry of Health guidelines, I write to advise that we have decided not to continue to hold public meetings for the time being.

It’s great to have data-led decision-making being the basis of the advice we are getting and a resolute government guiding our way through the complications.

The advice is not to hold indoor gatherings of more than 100. We get close to that number on occasions but with caution in mind and awareness of the people who come to Fabians are in the risk demographic, we feel it is prudent to go to alternative ways to ‘excite debate’. We could find it difficult to trace people from seating patterns in venues.

It is also likely that venues may become restricted so planned events may need to be cancelled at short notice. As an alternative we hope to try a couple of strategies.

One is asking keynote speakers on topics of interest to us, if they would allow us to post a copy of their material in a paper, a PowerPoint presentation, a podcast, a link to an interview or a video. We can then post these to our site and perhaps enable interaction with the person to enable a Q&A.

We do not want to distract contributors with persistent discussion but keeping abreast with content continues the chance to engage and keep our community stimulated and aware of persuasive argument.
Second, we can consider using interactive technology to bring debate together. We could use Facebook or Zoom, for example, as ways to create exchange and networks of conversation. We would value some feedback on this.
·      Are you familiar with these platforms?
·      Do you feel confident you could participate?
·      Would you use it if we went down this track?
Of course, we can help here by posting guides on how to access such platforms. It may take a while for us to become robust at it but it can be the way we continue to inform members on issues and debates that are relevant to a progressive future.
It is amazing to see how much traffic there is informing the emergent post-viral world. Some seeks a speedy return to traditions but the more interesting stuff sees huge innovation in what might become the new normal – greater equity, social justice and better outcomes for the environment and climate.  For example; 
From a Next Systems Project: blog on: Learning from the crisis
Social Europe: How governments need to step up
So let’s get through this. It changes the dynamic of our events but does not prevent getting together in for now in smaller groups in pubs, homes and in networks.
Be strong, be kind and be Fabian

Phil Harington

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We said we would try to bring content to the attention of the Fabians network through the lockdown and are working on several possibilities. Meanwhile, this is an article that caught my eye and in correspondence with the author we have come up with this package looking at the opportunity now presented to address the water quality problem in New Zealand. 

The original article was this one by Tom Kay, the Freshwater Advocate at Forest & Bird, in The Guardian, 'By failing to protect our water we have failed everything New Zealanders value'.

Reflections on Gough’s Heat, Greed and Human Need 

Stern dismissed any significant relationship between environmental and social policy, by saying that there is little point in equitable access to a train wreck.  Gough in his book, Heat, Greed and Human Need disagrees.  He states that equity, redistribution and prioritising human needs, far from being diversions from the basic task of decarbonising the economy, are critical climate policies.  The move to a green economy can only be successful if both environmental and social policies (eco-social policies, defined as policies that pursue both equity/justice and sustainability/sufficiency goals) are integrated.  When it operates within a global economy of gross inequality (between and within countries) it will fail to raise standards of wellbeing to a sufficient level, or it will fail to reduce emission at a sufficient rate, or it will fail at both.