Will work for food and other stories from a sharing economy

By Clifton Daniell
Has it all come down to this? An invisible pathogen that indiscriminately kills us and has tipped the world economy off-axis in a matter of months. I always suspected that our arrogance as the dominant species on this planet would see us undone. Or is this pandemic the quantum shift humanity needs to address the urgent actions required to right the wrongs from a post-industrial age. Can the lasting legacy from all the pain and suffering caused by COVID-19 be the impetus to get our global economy working together, to take action on climate change, poverty, homelessness, and address the divide between the richest and the poorest people on our planet? 
 
We hear on the news that many people are underemployed and want to work more. At the same time, we have aspects of society overworked and more than likely grinding themselves toward an early grave. Striking the right work-life balance post the pandemic could have a profound effect on the economy and mental well-being for all. You only need to look at the rapid increase in mental health issues costing 10’s of billions to our economy to recognise that what was the ‘working normal ‘of pre-COVID-19 is likely not sustainable in the future if we want to live more healthy and happy lives. 
 
I wonder are our leaders ready for the uncomfortable conversation ahead or are we going to roll over whilst we watch the unemployment lines grow, trying to figure out what the #%!* just happened. It doesn't matter where you are in the world, uncertainty prevails. News is nearly all bad, stock prices plummet, house prices fall, unemployment to grow beyond 10%, and youth unemployment greater than 20%.
 
My hope for the future is we create innovative new ways to collaborate and work together. A post-COVID ‘new normal’ founded on the principle of empathy to create an equitable society that supports the less fortunate and inspires our young people with hope, not despair. If one individual can make a personal stand and raise global awareness of the urgent need for our world leaders to take action on climate change. What can a post-COVID-19 society do if we choose to all work together? Can we work less and live simpler, and in doing so re-discover aspects of a 'sharing economy' where we grow produce and trade skills to create a more rewarding and inclusive community. What if the village square concept that dominates community commerce in many nations worldwide is embraced by town planners in Australia? What if the accepted capitalist norms of the pre-COVID-19 society are tempered and we discover new ways to share knowledge and skills and in doing so create a more fair society. Or is this just foolish idealism that risks the very foundations of capitalism replacing it with socialism? Only time will tell.