We are experiencing today, almost everywhere in the world, two apparently contradictory forms of demands: on the one hand, some people are calling for immediate reductions of income and wealth inequalities through taxation. On the other hand, young people are asking that we finally do what is necessary, in the long term, to make the world still liveable when they become adults.
On the surface, it may appear that one is a short-term demand, while the other is long-term. The opposite, however, is true.
Inequalities cannot really be reduced if we do not deal with the essentials, which involve the transfer of the means to succeed. Indeed, it is what those who feel they are victims of injustice believe: beyond their own poverty, they think that their children will not be able to escape their own fate. Tackling real reduction in inequalities would therefore require a long-term increase in school resources; better training for the unemployed; and rejecting all forms of discrimination related to cultural, health and social matters, as well as gender-based and social origins. It is therefore not only a matter of taxation, but also and above all a way of thinking and strengthening public services and particularly those related to education. It must be done with tenacity and with a long-term vision. We should not expect immediate results.
The environment is not just a long-term issue. We will not be able to stabilize or improve the environment if strong decisions are not taken immediately in order to fight our waste footprint; eliminate the use of plastic, reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and eat locally produced foods only. These decisions will have a very rapid impact on all agriculture sectors, and related industries and services. Such decisions will make it possible to stabilise greenhouse gas emissions and avoid the supervening long-term disasters caused by the deterioration of the climate, which could occur regardless of the technological progress that some wrongly expect to solve everything.
Faced with what has become known as “ultra-liberalism,” which is, in reality, only an exacerbation of the market economy, (caused by the dismantling of public services through privatisation, and giving priority to everything that can bring short-term profits to holders of capital), we should have the courage to judge the value of a public service not by its profitability but rather by what it brings to the territory where it is located in the long term.
The action to take is therefore at several levels: some issues are global; others are local. Ultra-liberalism is wreaking havoc at all levels. We must fight it in every possible way.
And the real opponent of ultra-liberalism is a “positive economy,” which by definition takes into consideration the interests of future generations in every decision, both private and public. Only in this context can the issues of social justice and climate protection be reconciled. And creating a “positive society” means creating the conditions so that every decision, whether in corporations or public entities, can be taken on the basis of this criterion; similar to family principles, the main decisions are taken on the basis of the interests of the children.
It is only in this context can the community provide itself with the means to protect itself against other threats, such as terrorism and vandalism. These threats make their way into any weak nation whereby public services are weakened by ultra-liberalism. Additionally, a weak nation does not know how to foresee these looming threats, and fail to provide itself with the means of self-defence.
To be positive is not to be naive; but rather it is to defend, by all democratic means, the living conditions and freedom of our children.