Given the spate of manufacturing job losses that are coming by, it seems that entire towns like Geelong are going to be full of unemployed. Should we worry? Ross Gittins has a good post about where jobs come from and why we as a nation shouldn’t. On a macro level, I agree with him. The jobs will come eventually from some where if the fundamentals of the economy are maintained. However, it’s not much comfort on the micro level for those people who are going to lose their jobs especially those whose entire qualifications and working life have been in manufacturing. What’s going to happen to them?
This got me thinking about the need for jobs in the first place. It goes something like this: i have a lifestyle, i need money to support the lifestyle, i need a job to get me the money, I need training / experience to get me a job and i need the economy to be lively enough that jobs are being created nearly as fast as population growth.
However, it is also clear that if you have a lifestyle that needs very little money, you can pretty much liberate yourself from the whole cycle. The hippies realised this a long time ago and to this day, clusters of them are attempting to do so with various degrees of success.
The two biggest challenges are the basic ones that have faced humans forever: fertile land and health-care. Second tier challenges are utilities such as water, electricity, transport and more and more these days: internet access. These challenges are in turn opportunities for country towns like Geelong and others wondering what they can do to continue existing as towns (well maybe not Geelong as it’s too big):
- Release lots of good affordable blocks of land
- Reduce rates as close to zero as possible (reducing services to those blocks correspondingly)
- Be very flexible with planning regulations for residential buildings especially on minimally serviced blocks
- Support multiple occupancy and other types of land use
- Provide funding for off-grid, self-sufficiency focussed neighbourhood centres
- Fund a free nursery of native vegetation
- Provide funding for community health centres
- Provide free wifi in the town centre
Stand back and watch your town turn into a collection of whole food shops, cafes, Steiner schools, yoga barns, craft and organic markets!
PS: or if you get it wrong, watch your town get invaded by junkies and dope-dealers as per Nimbin.