Heather Scoffield writes that some people are beginning to think outside the box:
B.C. is paying the provocative Mariana Mazzucato and her institute at University College London about $350,000 to advise the provincial government over the next year on how to shake things up so that their comeback is all at once inclusive, innovative and sustainable.
It’s just one manifestation of the new-found political conviction that plain old economic growth is just not enough — that the pandemic has exposed deep problems of inequality and our vulnerabilities to crisis, and clearly something needs to change. Policy-makers and government critics alike are eyeing the blossoming comeback, determined to take full advantage of it to solve a whole range of problems.
From federal minister Catherine McKenna quitting politics to push hard at climate change from outside government to Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland making child care the centre of her pandemic budget, they’re talking about tossing away the shackles of convention to confront the problems of our generation.
Noted economist Don Drummond has the nub of an idea on that front. In a new paper, the chair of the Centre for the Study of Living Standards establishes the case for confronting inequalities in the name of widespread prosperity. And he proposes a new institute whose purpose is to shift government policy toward enhancing growth, crushing inequality and protecting the environment all at the same time.
Before readers roll their eyes at another layer of bureaucracy, Drummond explains that this institute would draw in federal and provincial governments, researchers and thought-leaders, but also operate outside the electoral cycle in a permanent way that ad hoc advisory groups have not been able to in the past.
“Canada can and must do better on growth and its distribution,” Drummond writes. “The economic future will likely be so dynamic, with the adjustment to a lower-carbon future just one of many fundamental shifts likely to happen, that it seems unlikely a temporary body can recommend a one-time reset that will put the Canadian economy on a promising path for years.”
There are loud voices calling for a return to the past. They call it "normal." We must not follow their counsel.
Image: Toronto Reality Blog