'Failure demand: spending by governments in response to negative externalities generated by the current economic system.'
When political economist Katherine Trebeck was in Adelaide recently, she spoke of 'failure demand' - the rising costs of fixing up the damage caused by a malfunctioning system. This means everything from rental support to child protection to disaster response to building prisons to having to replicate the function of a natural system which has been destroyed (see: the entire body of work done on ecosystem services). Colleagues in other agencies often bemoan how little is spent on prevention, yet the amounts we need to spend on fighting fires - metaphorically and literally - is escalating.
I have been explaining this as its like 'Failure Demand' is Pac Man, merrily chomping its way through so many other things that would otherwise be in the budget (including, one can imagine, investments in various provisions that prevent maladaptive outcomes...). Failure Demand means government agencies are then asked to find budget cuts - this means less *positive* public services we can bring to citizens.
Of course, my brain then went off on evolving this metaphor, because stories and narratives are powerful.
Pac Man (Failure Demand) eats and eats, and budget items disappear, until at some point, a few ghosts catch up with him. Pac Man may find a power-pill, a shot of 'growth' that will help him prevail over a ghost, but only temporarily - it is not going to be enough to outrun the 'crisis' ghosts bearing down on him, and there is not one ghost, but multiple ghosts, which are all converging on him.
The last 'crisis' is [Insert] Crisis, because it's a play on [Insert Coin], and it allows people to mentally fill in the blank of where they see this problem, because there are too many more which are, and will continue, to put pressure on the system.
If we don't find another way to structure our affairs, and stop Failure Demand gobbling more and more, the ghosts win, and then we hear this noise: