I’ve just discovered Kate’s work, but have been thinking along very similar lines for some time. Here’s why I think Donut Economics should be shouted about right now:
This moment is a time for solidarity as humanity as we cooperate to subdue the threat of viral contagion. The virus spreads through economies at every scale as it spreads through the levels of our communities, from the top to the very bottom. At the moment, the entire global economy is exposed at every scale because we are in a massive social distancing effort that crosses political lines, operating on a community scale, but throughout the entire world. Businesses and households everywhere feel it. No-one is immune. No person and no economic entity.
And, while our vulnerabilities are exposed, we can see the places where the current system is brittle. An economy that cannot sustain two weeks of slower consumption while people protect their lives and the lives of others is not a healthy one. A community that demands people work while they are sick is not a healthy one, and an economy that demands the same spreads viruses. Literally.
The economy is slowing to a grinding halt because the movement of money is slowing down for a moment. It will move again when the physical virus is subdued, but the economic virus will have already killed off many small business, individuals who do not receive a paycheck will default on loans and mortgages. Retirees living on fixed income may have it the hardest if they were heavily exposed to the stock or bond markets. People relying on public or community support may be isolated or abandoned by caregivers or their government. The casualties from the economic virus may surpass those of the physical disease depending on the magnitude of the multiplier effects that ripple through our local economies in the coming months and years.
This is serious. The solid ground of reliable growth into the foreseeable future has been broken apart and turned over. This is a time when we have an opportunity to introduce better ideas into the system before we rebuild it back just as it was. This is a time to learn from our best minds and take the best of what we’ve learned since the last reconstruction began. What do we know now that we didn’t know then? What ideas have emerged since 2008, for example, that have some real promise of making our economies less brittle, and less susceptible to disease?
We have Doughnut Economics, and to my mind THIS is the time to talk with policymakers and civic leaders about ways to incorporate smarter measures of economic health into our public discourse and accounting practices. I tell my friends I believe in practicing ‘subversive economics’ because I think that the smartest thing we can do to change our world from top to bottom and from the inside out, is to change the equations we use to measure success. GDP is wrong-headed, but it’s what people know, and understand.
I’m surprised there isn’t more chatter on here this month, TBH.