Governments Ignoring Covid’s Wake-up Call for Travel

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Should government subsidise things like this? Image from Maddi Bazzacco at Unspplash

Supporting the hospitality industry is not the way to restart the economy.

It seems utterly bizarre that people are being told to commute to work for no better reason than to provide profits for the proprietors of coffee shops and restaurants and the owners of city office blocks.

People who work from home still need to consume food and drink. Doing it at home means they are supporting local businesses, those small shops and cafes that are the beating heart of a community.

Working from home eliminates congestion on routes into the city, reduces fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

Apparently, working from home suits employers as well as employees. They can operate from smaller premises with lowered energy bills and the reduction of other overheads making them more efficient.

Where the employee has a young family it can mean they do not have to rely on someone else to care for those children.

Child care is, of course, another sector a significant proportion of which only exists to serve the needs of people who work in offices.

What we have is a whole array of businesses that exist solely to meet the needs of office workers and their employers.

That rely on the fact that people are willing to spend hours every day in congested railway carriages or in almost stationary traffic in order to go somewhere to perform tasks that could as easily be performed at home.

That is not an efficient economy. That is a parasitic existence and, by its nature, a drain on the real economy of essential jobs.

I wrote in the early days of the pandemic that it represented a wake-up call for tourism and hospitality. I still believe that to be true.

There is no reason why anyone working in these secondary businesses should be out of work. There is plenty of essential work to be done.

The UK, in common with much of the developed world, has a housing shortage.

There are huge numbers of people relying on food banks.

Food producers apparently have to ship in large numbers of people from poor countries, even in the middle of a pandemic, in order to carry out the harvest.

Social care is in crisis. Despite a reliance on cheap foreign labour there are many unfilled vacancies. At the same time, home care providers lack the resources to devote enough time to properly support their clients.

An economy that uses its surpluses only to satisfy the greed of the professional classes is lacking in basic morality.

Instead of providing over-priced food and drink for office workers who don’t need to be there in the first place we should be serving the real needs of the elderly and infirm.

Instead of building glass and steel monuments to greed we should be building homes fit for the heroes who carry out essential work and have continued to do so with increased commitment throughout this crisis.

How we get from here to there is not so easy to define. But paying a little more towards the cost of social care should not be beyond the means of a government that is willing to subsidise people to eat out.

Frank is a retired Engineer from England now living in Ireland. He is trying to learn and share the lessons of history.

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