The revenge of Greg Gloom, Interlude. Fourth and final part of Professor Crabb’s lecture.

By now the crowd was getting fidgety.  Professor Cabb had been snoozing for some time.  Important as the Cabb Lecture was, they weren’t here to listen to economics.  They were here because in little more than thirty minutes would begin the semi-final of the FA Cup.  It was the first time that the semi-final was held at the Midlands Stadium.  As usual, the location was determined as that which required the least travel for the two teams.  As this semi-final was to between the Potters of Stoke and the Sky Blues of Coventry, the Telford ground was judged the most appropriate.  The only catch was that a ticket included the obligation to listen to Professor Cabb’s lecture.  It was just the way things worked in England in those days.
As Professor Cabb rested, the whirring of the cycle generators could be heard.  Somewhere beyond the woods which surrounded the stadium was a second crowd – ten thousand casual labourers, petty criminals, fitness fanatics, homeless people and De-urbs rebels under police guard panted away, hunched over their standing cycles, producing the power to drive the floodlights.  There was a local Pedal Power Order on.  The homeless loved them – a couple of hours exercise in return for a nourishing bowl of lentil soup: “putting back the goodness”, as the jingle went.
“I do apologise for the pause,” said Professor Cabb.  Meanwhile Minnie wiped her front with a handkerchief because Cabb had dribbled somewhat in his sleep.  Cabb himself pulled out his own handkerchief again and dabbed his face.
“Let me conclude with a vision of what kinds of belief should pervade our society in order to ensure that they are conducive to the wholesome forms of economic activity.  Ironically, before the current leadership of prime minister Hash, politicians, our leaders, shirked from voicing belief.  Just the people who should inspire us with belief shied away from this, partly under the influence of valueluess economists and partly from fear of offending those with different beliefs.  Luckily, spineless scoundrels like that no longer have a role in politics.  Why, even Wiedekoenig has a bold ideology, flawed as it is!”
The crowd stamped and howled at the mention of the loathed Wiedekoenig, head of the Petrol Party.
“There are three things which should shape our aspirations.  First, we know what it is that makes well-being.  We need food and shelter and security; we need a close family; we need time to spend with our children and our friends; living in a trusting society and being able to trust those around it.  Well-being comes when we having purpose and occupation and responsibility which matches our capabilities; when we receive recognition from their peers; when we have enough exercise; and health; when we have access to green spaces and nature.  These are things which give us well-being.  There is no viable economic option but for them to be explicit priorities.
“And second, we know well many things which cause ill-being.  Poor education, poor nutrition, poor parenting, stress, crime, alcoholism, drugs, violence, unemployment, depression, lovelessness, exposure to television and computer games and violence, uncertainty, oppression and coercion, deprivation and so on all feed on each other and create downward spirals.
“And finally, there are nature’s constraints which we may not overstep.  The pillars of life: the cycles of carbon, oxygen, water and nitrogen; biodiversity; the climate; the ozone layer; the seas and the forests.  We have to work with within these, not against or around them.  Otherwise even Mr Thistle will be toast.  Not to mention the rights and dignity of other species, which the Do As Be Done By Act [1] has so justly enshrined in law.
“The great political philosophers of the past did not know of nature’s constraints – the human population was small and science and technology was undeveloped – we did not bump into them.  Now all their books must be rewritten to accommodate them.
“As you know, some people say that we’re not limited by nature’s constraints because we can build steel and glass machines run by computers.  But even if they do come up with something, how do we know there will be enough demand to make that thing economically viable?  Without belief there will not be demand even for that.  To overstep nature’s constraints is suicide.  We were perilously close to that two or three decades ago.  The robust leadership of prime minister Hash has pulled us from the brink.  But we are far from safe.
“Thus, it is vital that the beliefs lead us to wholesome economic choices.  The simplest of examples.  If you believe strongly in the importance of survival, you will be prepared to pay a little extra for green energy; if you believe strongly in the importance of your health, you will pay more for healthy food grown without noxious chemicals.  Accordingly you will ignore unwholesome and polluting offerings in the economy.  Wholesome belief is the only way by which capitalism can be consistent with our survival”, concluded Cabb.  He rushed the end of his account because the players had started to come out at the tunnel and he wanted to watch the game, too.
It is surely now time to shift our attention back to the Forgotten Password, just a couple of miles north, where that secret meeting was taking place in the bar lounge.
[1] See earlier posts such as This was written when the setting was in Hungary rather than England.  The inconsistency will be ironed out when the Chronicles of Nat Eb are published.
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