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Convert Defense and Other Industries to Fight New Security Threats

Di fronte al coronavirus, si deve esplorare la possibilità della riconversione industriale – a partire dall’industria militare – per rispondere alle istanze sociali che nascono dalla crisi. Il punto è se (e come) i movimenti progressisti possono cogliere questa sfida. Da “The Global Teach-In”.

A Crisis of Supply and Demand

The Corona Virus crisis is a crisis of both economic supply and economic demand. The supply crisis is triggered by factories closing to protect factory workers and other businesses doing the same (to protect workers or consumers). The demand side of the crisis is triggered by the fact that workers laid off often don’t have as great incomes, because many service businesses are closed or see less business for obvious reasons. The market, which often works as a useful coordinating mechanism, has proven to be limited in solving the supply and demand problems generated by this crisis.

Cutting interest rates won’t provide a meaningful alternative to these supply and demand problems. Instead, we must ask basic questions about how resources are organized in society. The basic questions center on the role which security policies and globalization have played in diverting nations from priorities in health, welfare and equitable economic development. The health crisis is partially a production crisis.

On the one hand, governments have invested in obsolete “hard power” military missions that increasingly waste resources needed to combat environmental and health crises. On the other hand, a team of writers at The New York Times have explained how globalization and outsourcing sustain the production crisis: “a shortage of masks has become a bottleneck slowing the rollout of testing, which experts say is crucial to containing the virus.” Various “companies are struggling to quickly expand their mask-making capacities, in part because of broken overseas supply chains and some countries’ restrictions on exporting protective gear during the crisis.”

The Threat of the Next Great Depression

A March 20, 2020 article by Laurence Darmiento in The Los Angeles Times discussed the potential of a Great Depression: “experts are grappling with a situation as novel as the virus that caused it, and they really don’t know how much our high-tech, interconnected and consumption-oriented economy can endure.” He quotes Roger Framer of UCLA and Warwick as follows: “The longer this disruption goes on, the more likely it will have a permanent effect…Three weeks we can bounce back from, three months is not so clear.” A report on March 17th on the USA noted about 18% of adults reported that “they had hours cut or had been laid off, with the workers in lower-income households hit hardest.” Moody’s Analytics claimed that “nearly 80 million U.S. jobs” have different risk levels with Darmiento suggesting  “it’s more likely some 10 million workers could either be laid off, furloughed or see their hours and wages cut.” While teleworking can help some, Darmiento noted: “Cashiers, waiters, construction workers and others in the blue-collar workforce don’t have that luxury as they sit at home without pay.”

Dion Rabouin in Axios went further in an article entitled, “Coronavirus could force the world into an unprecedented depression.” Rabouin began his essay as follows: “In its latest repricing of the economy, the market sees the now-expected global recession caused by the coronavirus outbreak morphing into an economic depression unlike any the world has seen in generations.” He identified “the big picture” by stating that “bankers and traders are looking to sell everything that isn’t nailed down to boost cash positions and hunker down for the worst.” Rabouin pointed to Deutsche Bank economists who predicted a “severe global recession occurring in the first half of 2020” and “quarterly declines in GDP growth we anticipate substantially exceed anything previously recorded going back to at least World War II.”

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