I am not a believer in conspiracy theories, but for one moment let’s imagine there exists a shadowy secret society bent on world betterment…

The Society had been increasingly worried. They had believed that the climate crisis would jolt humanity into a change in direction. It had seemed obvious that the prospect of the destruction of what humanity counted as its civilisation would make them reflect on its ways and see the light.

However things had not been looking good. The tenacity of their economic religion which allowed them to rationalise extreme self-interest and put it at the core of all their institutions was extraordinary. And fossil fuel interests had also been very effective at sowing confusion. The Society decided a new strategy was needed to really teach the world the lessons they needed before it was too late.

Their leaders gathered from across the world at their secret headquarters in a valley in Bhutan, trekking there on foot. The nation’s monarch, King Jigme had been a long-term supporter and had promoted one of their previous ideas, the Gross National Happiness Index. 

That is where the idea of creating both a virus and vaccines was born. Their inspiration was the impact of cholera and the “great stink” in Victorian times on the development of British society. They realised that this virus had to cause a whole lot of misery if lessons were going to be learnt, but they thought there was no other alternative. But they did work to ensure vaccines would be available in a very short period after the outbreak even though this could raise suspicions. The speed of vaccine development would be without precedent.

Then the potential for a global teach-in over a relatively short space was immense: 

  • government power to create money and control the economy – tick;
  • the nature of exponential growth – tick;
  • the effect of tipping points – tick;
  • the potential for community action – tick;
  • what work really mattered – tick; and
  • much more.

However, they saw their most powerful educational tool in the ability of the virus to evolve into more dangerous mutations. Humanity could only avoid this if they used their powerful vaccines for the good of all; not just the few.  Wouldn’t that demonstrate that you can only solve global problems collectively? That it was no good just looking after your own narrow community?  They really thought it might work….

So in a humble effort to support their secret plan, we are dedicating this issue to exploring the caring economy.

Bob McMaster explores the role of care in the economy, Helena Norberg-Hodge explains why food is core to a caring economy and Isaac Stanley argues that care should be seen as a type of infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Nina Teasdale challenges the narrative of the old being a burden for caring, John Seddon explains how care delivery needs reform while Valeria Esquivel argues that investments in care services should be core to a human-centred recovery from the pandemic.

And Rebecca Annells and Victoria Topham explore how Wales gives the world a guiding light on the path out of diet-related, poor health, Wendy Adamba tells about her work in Kenya to promote healthy behaviour and Julian Abel explains how Frome in the UK is leading the way in preventing ill-health.

On the finance front, Raj Thamotheram provides a new approach to investing for pensions without costing the earth. Vivek Kotecha examines the increasing role of private equity in delivering care services and I look at the potential for a local food currency in addressing food poverty.

Beyond the world of care, Dirk Ehnts reviews Jeffery E. Garten’s book Three Days at Camp David: How a Secret Meeting in 1971 Transformed the Global Economy, and Jeremy Williams looks at the prospects for hydrogen as fuel of the future.

Lastly, Verity provides some much-needed light relief as she continues to follow her star pupil’s progress.

My best wishes to you all over the festive season. I hope this provides some stimulating reading for you.

Henry Leveson-Gower

Henry is the founder and CEO of Promoting Economic Pluralism as well as editor of The Mint Magazine. He has been a practising economist contributing to environmental policy for 25 …

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