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Airlines and oil giants are on the brink. No government should offer them a lifeline

6 496 5679
29.04.2020

Do Not Resuscitate. This tag should be attached to the oil, airline and car industries. Governments should provide financial support to company workers while refashioning the economy to provide new jobs in different sectors. They should prop up only those sectors that will help secure the survival of humanity and the rest of the living world.

They should either buy up the dirty industries and turn them towards clean technologies, or do what they often call for but never really want: let the market decide. In other words, allow these companies to fail.

This is our second great chance to do things differently. It could be our last. The first, in 2008, was spectacularly squandered. Vast amounts of public money were spent reassembling the filthy old economy, while ensuring that wealth remained in the hands of the rich. Today, many governments appear determined to repeat that catastrophic mistake.

The “free market” has always been a product of government policy. If antitrust laws are weak, a few behemoths survive while everyone else goes down. If dirty industries are tightly regulated, clean ones flourish. If not, the corner-cutters win. But the dependency of enterprises on public policy has seldom been greater in capitalist nations than it is today. Many major industries are now entirely beholden to the state for their survival. Governments have the oil industry over a barrel – hundreds of millions of unsaleable barrels, to be more precise – just as they had the banks over a barrel in 2008. Then, they failed to use their power to eradicate the sector’s socially destructive practices and rebuild it around human........

© The Guardian