5 min read

Welcome to The Issue

Welcome to The Issue

Hi, and welcome. I'm Umair. Many of you might have read my articles, books, and essays over the years, seen my interviews, or even followed me in places. And you may be wondering: what's this? Let me explain the thinking behind The Issue, why I created a new publication—and why I welcome you to join us on this new journey.

Take a glimpse at the world today. Climate change's mega-scale impacts are arriving. Democracy's buckling, in sharp, steep decline, as extremism rises, in every corner of the globe. Leadership appears to have turned into demagoguery. Economies are stuck. Generations are in downward mobility. A wave of pessimism deeper than in a century is rising. Conflict's exploding. Flood and fire incinerate, drown, level towns and regions. Basic systems and institutions are fracturing. We live in troubled times. We're confronted by existential threats.

This is a critical juncture. For humanity. For civilization. It's full of Big, Burning, Historic Issues. Rarely have there been more urgent or bigger ones. Like: are we going to have much of a planet? Economies? Systems? Democracies? Social contracts? A future? Where are we heading, as a civilization, and how did we get here, to this  place where...everything feels like it's on the brink?

Hence, The Issue. Every issue, 3-5 times a week—we bring you an Issue. One that matters most. I'll come back to us. First...

But open up the opinion and analysis section of a newspaper—and you'd scarcely know it. There, you'll find...the strangest thing. Equivocations, justifications, denialism, excuses. There's a reason for that. They publish on an old model. A model in which there were two "sides" to every issue, and both deserved equal time and space, because they both had valuable things to say. That's not true anymore. There aren't "two sides" to climate change—just ask Hawaii, British Columbia, or the orange skies over Manhattan and Chicago. Or any Big Issue confronting us, really, from democracy in decline, to economies not delivering. The old model of publishing is badly, badly broken.

Does it infuriate you a little bit to open up whatever your newspaper of choice is, and there, in the op-ed or analysis section, are columnists and columns and material from...warring "sides"? So then you're forced to read absurd headlines, like maybe trying to steal a democracy isn't so bad!, or no, 70% of people are struggling, but the economy's doing great!, or climate change is going to be great for growth!, or maybe everyone doesn't deserve basic rights. On and on it goes. Bizarre, abstruse, outdated theories are trotted out to justify these backwards attitudes. And our societies are mired down instead—not learning fast enough, not understanding deep enough, not knowing true enough.

Our mission is different. Couldn't be more so. We believe that the future doesn't have time for these fake, politicized, performative "debates." There's reality, facts, logic, common sense, and truth. They exist. They're not there to be bargained with or denied. The stakes are too high now—for all of us, for civilization, democracy, the planet, and life on it.

So in every issue—we bring you an Issue. An Issue. One that matters most. We don't play around, and pretend like it doesn't, or that it can be denied or ignored or justified away, or that its existence is somehow there to be squabbled over. Instead, our goal is fresh thinking, deep insight, and rigorous analysis about it. What is climate change going to do to our economies? How bad will it get? Has our economic model failed? Why are the vast majority still struggling to make ends meet? What about politics—is democracy going to make it? Where does this wave of demagoguery end? Why are our people in our societies at each others' throats? What kinds of social contracts will make a future worth living in? Who are the emerging leaders and innovators and pioneers of tomorrow? Just a few examples of Issues.

There's a word that's often used these days, especially by Americans. "Nonpartisan." Have you ever thought about what it really means? Remember that model of old publishing? Two "sides," fighting it out? That's not nonpartisan—though it pretends to be. That's bipartisan—an increasingly clumsy attempt at being so. It's bipartisan for a reason: it's modelled (literally) on politics. Not a great way to understand the world to begin with—but as our politics unravels, it's never been a poorer way. This old model is a flimsy political construction, and that's why it's become obsolete. We're nonpartisan in the true sense. The real one. We don't adopt that tired pretense. We  bring you the Issues. The Issues. Not "sides" bickering over them. There's a big difference. Our job is to cut to the bone, the marrow, offer you the reality, meaning, the often startling implications of all these big, historic Issues rocking our world, in this troubled age of transformation—so you can understand them like an expert would.

My voice is different—and so will The Issue's be. I don't write like a newspaper columnist or speak like a TV pundit for a reason. I'm not one. I'm an award-winning economist, a globally recognized expert, listed in the world's top thinkers, etcetera, etcetera. I don't say that to score points—I say it because what you'll read here is going to be very different. I'm not here to equivocate, justify, deny, pretend, or hem and haw. Make believe? We're here to tell it like it is. Our stance is more challenging, more raw, more real, way deeper, and hopefully, more compelling than what you'll find in other places. That's because our goal is to help you understand the Issues in a sophisticated, nuanced, thoughtful way. We're not here to play games. We're here for the Issues that matter most, because they belong to all of us, and concern all of us.

So how does this work? Like I said, 3-5 times a week, we bring you an Issue. A big one. These Issues are part of larger megatrends, which are now reshaping our world. So for example, when we discuss how climate change affects the economy, the megatrends that Issue's part of will probably be The Age of Extinction and the Age of Stagnation. Or if we discuss why our systems and institutions are failing, it'll probably be part of the megatrends of the Age of Collapse, and the Rise of Existential Risk. If that sounds complex, it is, a little bit. As you read, though, you'll begin to build up a mental map about how the world is changing, what the future looks like, and what your place in it is. That's expert mind—connecting Issues to megatrends, which is seeing the Big Picture. But you don't have to worry about that—if we do our job well, it'll become second nature all by itself.

Welcome, then. It's not easy for me and my small team to try and set up a new publication—it's daunting. I'd rather be in my little music studio making disco. But I've thought long and hard about it. It ate away at me, day after day. And the conclusion I came to was this.  I think that we need it, deserve it, and could use it—a publication that gets away from infotainment, punditry, false "fairness and balance," both-sidesing everything from climate change to demagoguery—one that's laser-focused on the Issues that matter most, now rocking our world, in a no-compromise way.

Every subscriber counts. It helps us keep the lights on, bring you fresh content, expand and grow. Personally? I value the feeling of a community. I invite you to join us, and the community we'll build together.

Thank you for reading, and again—welcome.