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  • feedwordpress 19:59:01 on 2017/03/13 Permalink  

    Britain’s First Catholic Prime Minister? 

    According to Michael Gove, that is. The Catholic Herald makes an interesting revelation.

    "May has good relations with Cardinal Vincent Nichols, president of the bishops’ conference of England and Wales. The cardinal said he was “personally delighted” when she was appointed prime minister and noted the “maturity of judgement, the steely resolve, the sense of justice and the personal integrity and warmth you have always shown”. The pair had previously worked together in efforts to stop human trafficking, with May attending a conference at the Vatican."

    As I noted in 2014, the reasoning coming from the Catholic Church alingned closely with our efforts in people-centered economics. Cardinal Nicholas had spoken in support of a Blueprint for Better Business.

    "My starting point is simple. It is the good of the human person. As a Catholic I have a fundamental belief, along with many others and indeed shared by very many people of no faith, that we must start from the conviction that people really matter. We are none of us simply producers, or consumers, or employees. What we all share first and foremost is a common humanity. Good societies are built on that fundamental respect for the human person."

    I'd been one of those who particpated in the online debate sponsored by the CBI, sharing the work we'd been doing in business which puts people before profit. I called it The New Bottom Line with its key message from our 'Marshall Plan:

    'This is a long-term permanently sustainable program, the basis for "people-centered" economic development. Core focus is always on people and their needs, with neediest people having first priority – as contrasted with the eternal chase for financial profit and numbers where people, social benefit, and human well-being are often and routinely overlooked or ignored altogether. This is in keeping with the fundamental objectives of Marshall Plan: policy aimed at hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos. This is a bottom-up approach, starting with Ukraine's poorest and most desperate citizens, rather than a "top-down" approach that might not ever benefit them. They cannot wait, particularly children. Impedance by anyone or any group of people constitutes precisely what the original Marshall Plan was dedicated to opposing. Those who suffer most, and those in greatest need, must be helped first -- not secondarily, along the way or by the way. '

    It was back in 2009, when I first became aware of the Vatican's advocacy when Caritas in Veritate showed up on a search for people-centered. Pope Benedict's appeal for people-centred ethics would come at the same time as the President of the UN General Assembly, a Catholic Priest:

    “The anti-values of greed, individualism and exclusion should be replaced by solidarity, common good and inclusion. The objective of our economic and social activity should not be the limitless, endless, mindless accumulation of wealth in a profit-centred economy but rather a people-centred economy that guarantees human needs, human rights, and human security, as well as conserves life on earth. These should be universal values that underpin our ethical and moral responsibility.”

    (Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, the President of the United Nations General Assembly speaking in 2009)

    Hard is it is to swallow, I come to the conclusion that Theresa May is trying to build her 'economy that works for all' on this work.

    Though I was involved, the entire thing derives from the work of my late colleague who died in his efforts to place institutionalises and abused children in loving family homes.

    'The author of breakthru report “Death camps for children” Terry Hallman suddenly died of grave disease on Aug 18 2011. On his death bed he was speaking only of his mission – rescuing of these unlucky kids. His dream was to get them new homes filled with care and love. His quest would be continued as he wished.'

    As the 'Marshall Plan' for Ukraine had put it:

    'We see a staggering array of social problems arising directly from poverty, including but not limited to tens of thousands of children in orphanages or other state care; crime; disrespect for civil government because government cannot be felt or seen as civil for anyone left to suffer in poverty; young people prostituting themselves on the street; drug abuse to alleviate the aches and pains of the suffering that arises from poverty and misery; HIV/AIDS spreading like a plague amidst prostitution, unprotected sex, and drug abuse; more children being born into this mix and ending up in state care at further cost to the state; criminals coming from poverty backgrounds, ending up as bandits, returning to communities after prison, with few options except further criminal activity. These are all part and parcel of the vicious negative cycle of poverty, and this threatens to destroy Ukraine, if Ukraine is defined in terms of people rather than mere geographic boundaries.'

    'The future of business lies in people not profit' said the Blueprint fo Better Business some time later.

    Henry Ford may well have said that you can't build a reputation on what you're going to do, but it seems very easy to build a reputation on what someone else has done with a little rebranding.

    How about Business as if other people mattered?

     
  • feedwordpress 09:18:22 on 2016/12/23 Permalink  

    Bono’s Billionaires for financial and social return 

    A New Fund Seeks Both Financial and Social Returns says the New York Times article picturing Bono at Capitol Hill

    "There is a lazy-mindedness that we afford do-gooders" said Bono, criticising the perfomance of impact investing to date. "A lot of bad deals done by good people"

    Behind the 2 billion dollar fund is a private equity firm which has previous gained from investment in Uber and AirBnB, but now  their founder wants to be seen to be doing good. 

    “Capitalism is going up on trial, and I think that it’s clear that putting profit before people is a nonsustainable business model,” Bono said. “I think giving those two equal time is the way forward, and I think that in the present climate, we need to rethink, reimagine what it is. It’s not that capitalism is immoral; it’s amoral. And it’s a better servant than master.”

    That point bears ar remarkable resemblance to something I shared several years ago with the McKinsey Long Term Capitalism challenge - Re-imagining Capitalism : The New Bottom-LIne which described business which puts people before shareholder value and applying it in a 'Marshall Plan' for Ukraine 

    When our founder was interviewed in 2004, he'd made this point: "If everyone in the world has enough to live a decent life and not in poverty, then there is no great problem with some people having far more than they need. But, that's not the case, and there are no rules in the previous capitalist system to fix that. Profit and numbers have no conscience, and anything done in their name has been accepted as an unavoidable aspect of capitalism."

    The 'Marshall Plan' proposal described the creation of a social investment fund of at least 1.5 billion dollars which would be returned in addition to reduction of costs to the state, particularly in the case of childcare reform which would enable all institutionalised children to benefit from a loving family home.

    Last year, when York St John University ran their conference on Cross-Sector Collaboration, I was given the opportunity to describe how forward thinking business were invited to contribute to the social investment fund  

    “Project funding should be placed as a social-benefit fund under oversight of an independent board of directors, particularly including representatives from grassroots level Ukraine citizens action groups, networks, and human rights leaders.

     

    “This program provides for near-term social relief for Ukraine’s neediest citizens, most particularly children who normally have least possible influence and no public voice. Over a few years time, the net cost financially is zero. Every component is designed to become financially solvent, through mechanisms of cost-savings and shared revenue with other components. One component, Internet, provides essential communications infrastructure as well as a cash surplus to be used to offset any lingering costs of other components such as childcare, and otherwise goes to a permanent social benefit fund under oversight of the aforementioned independent, citizens-based non-government board of directors.

     

    “Any number of other social enterprises can be created. Furthermore, any number of existing for-profit enterprises are entirely free to contribute any percentage of profits they wish to increase the proposed initial $1.5 billion social investment fund. If for example the total fund comes to $3 billion, that amount would generate at least $300 million per year in a hryvnia deposit account at any one of several major Ukrainian banks, to provide ongoing funding to continue to create and expand social enterprises.

     

    “This strategy places adequate funding for social benefit under control and management independent of government and the very obvious vicissitudes and conflicts inherent therein.

         

     

     
  • feedwordpress 07:35:35 on 2016/12/20 Permalink  

    The neoliberal suicide of social entrepreneurship 

    Social Entrepreneurship seems a clumsy word, doesn't it.  Deriving from the French word meaning to undertake, it may have become it's own undertaker.

    The original concept is attributable to Bill Drayon whose Ashoka foundation had driven many of the early efforts to apply business methods to address social problems.

    Others like Skoll have followed. In all cases, supported by a nonprofit foundation which may provide start up funding, or a stipend to ensure that the entrepreneurs themselves are at least sustainable.

    These foundations are part of what Ruthie Gilmore of the black women's group Incite! describes as the nonprofit industrial complex, the transferrance of wealth from profit maximising corporations back to their own interests via a nonprofit foundation. "Neoliberalism", she says, "does not mean new nice guys, it means new mean guys"     

    The neoliberal takeover od social enterprenweurship 

     

     

     
  • feedwordpress 17:16:57 on 2016/12/14 Permalink  

    Was it Bernie Sanders who said it? 

    "Modifying the output of capitalism is the only method available to resolving the problem of capitalism where numbers trumped people – at the hands of people trained toward profit represented only by numbers and currencies rather than human beings. Profit rules, people are expendable commodities represented by numbers. The solution, and only solution, is to modify that output, measuring profit in terms of real human beings instead of numbers."

    What about this?

    "Traditional capitalism is an insufficient economic model allowing monetary outcomes as the bottom line with little regard to social needs. Bottom line must be taken one step further by at least some companies, past profit, to people. How profits are used is equally as important as creation of profits. Where profits can be brought to bear by willing individuals and companies to social benefit, so much the better. Moreover, this activity must be recognized and supported at government policy level as a badly needed, essential, and entirely legitimate enterprise activity.”

    What Bernie Sanders said, may be found in this Time Magazine article about the possible candidate who agrees most with Pope Francis:   

    “The bottom line should be how well we are doing as human beings … The bottom line means that we should not have 20% of our kids living in poverty and elderly people in this country trying to get by on $12,000 a year.”

    The quotes above are the words of a man who was himself one of the marginalised Americans, who'd died while putting these ideals into practice.

    Re-Imagining Capitalism: The New 'Bottom Line', a submission to the McKinsey Long Term Capitalism Challenge, described his actions

    In his 2007 proposal for a 'Marshall Plan' for Ukraine, he'd said:

    'This is a long-term permanently sustainable program, the basis for "people-centered" economic development. Core focus is always on people and their needs, with neediest people having first priority – as contrasted with the eternal chase for financial profit and numbers where people, social benefit, and human well-being are often and routinely overlooked or ignored altogether. This is in keeping with the fundamental objectives of Marshall Plan: policy aimed at hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos. This is a bottom-up approach, starting with Ukraine's poorest and most desperate citizens, rather than a "top-down" approach that might not ever benefit them. They cannot wait, particularly children. Impedance by anyone or any group of people constitutes precisely what the original Marshall Plan was dedicated to opposing. Those who suffer most, and those in greatest need, must be helped first -- not secondarily, along the way or by the way. '

    In 2009, both Pope Benedict and the President of the UN General Assembly referred to the need for a people-centered economy. as I describe in Economics for the Common Good and the Vatican.

    Has Bernie read what Rabbi Lerner and the Network of Spiritual Progressives say about the bottom line?

    “Instead of a bottom-line based on money and power, we need a new bottom-line that judges corporations, governments, schools, public institutions, and social practices as efficient, rational and productive not only to the extent they maximize money and power, but to the extent they maximize love and caring, ethical and ecological sensitivity, and our capacity to respond with awe and wonder at the grandeur of creation.” 

    Yet in spite of what these leaders say, I cannot find one among their supporters who would help us put it into practice. 

    To the end, Terry Hallman put those in greatest need first and the eulogy from Ukraine's Maidan leaders offers a glimpse into struggle, with an extract from his appeal to USAID and the Senate FRC     

    10 years ago, his 'Death Camps, For Children' had sent ripples through the NGO community in Ukraine. Children with disabilities abandoned to the state had become a cash cow for organised crime. He pulled no punches when describing the root problem:

    "Excuses won't work, particularly in light of a handful of oligarchs in Ukraine having been allowed to loot Ukraine's economy for tens of billions of dollars. I point specifically to Akhmetov, Pinchuk, Poroshenko, and Kuchma, and this is certainly not an exhaustive list. These people can single-handedly finance 100% of all that will ever be needed to save Ukraine's orphans. None of them evidently bother to think past their bank accounts, and seem to have at least tacit blessings at this point from the new regime to keep their loot while no one wants to consider Ukraine's death camps, and the widespread poverty that produced them.."

    60 years earlier, George Marshall told Harvard "Governments, political parties or groups which seek to perpetuate human misery in order to profit therefrom politically or otherwise will encounter the opposition of the United States."

    It's hard to believe that no Jew nor any Catholic, nor any American who embraces those values, can help those who apply it in their deeds.    

     

     

     
  • feedwordpress 08:27:04 on 2016/10/25 Permalink  

    How many New Bottom Lines are there? 

    Re-inagining capitalism: The new 'bottom line' was an article I wrote in 2013 for McKinsey's Long Term Capitalism challenge. I chose that title because of what had been argued again and again about business which takes the "bottom line' past profit and numbers.  To my knowledge, it was alone in descrbing something that had been done rather than should be done.

    'This is a long-term permanently sustainable program, the basis for "people-centered" economic development. Core focus is always on people and their needs, with neediest people having first priority – as contrasted with the eternal chase for financial profit and numbers where people, social benefit, and human well-being are often and routinely overlooked or ignored altogether. This is in keeping with the fundamental objectives of Marshall Plan: policy aimed at hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos. This is a bottom-up approach, starting with Ukraine's poorest and most desperate citizens, rather than a "top-down" approach that might not ever benefit them. They cannot wait, particularly children. Impedance by anyone or any group of people constitutes precisely what the original Marshall Plan was dedicated to opposing. Those who suffer most, and those in greatest need, must be helped first -- not secondarily, along the way or by the way. '

    Today what began as people-centered economics is being described as social business or the fourth sector.  Social business and For Benefit Corporations is a Linkedin group of 6000+ aimed at helping propagate this kind of business which applies profit for purpose.

    Two years later, it's a slogan for Huffington Post and the sponsorship of PWC. They're promoting Profit with Purpose, a subtle but fundamental shift back toward the status quo.  

    While it's highly unlikely that our efforts will feature, I note the amazing number of Huff Post articles which seem to derive from our work

    Of all these, the 'Marshall Plan' for Ukraine I described in the 2013 article is perhaps the most significant. Here's the Huffington Post version, as sponsored by an Ukrainian oligarch

    Sergiy Leshchenko, Ukrainian MP and anti-corruption activist describes The Firtash Octopus

    "In an attempt not to be branded as a money launderer and to save himself from being transported to America in handcuffs, Firtash has launched a multifaceted campaign to clean up his image, recruiting dozens of politicians, intellectuals, lobbyists and cultural figures in Europe and the US. "

    It's been said, I don't remember where, that the best way to prevent a revolution is to join it and change its direction. The peaceful Orange revolution we joined on the ground would turn to violence as our founder predicted in 2005, when he wrote 'Really Betraying a Revolution' for Maidan.

    For The Guardian, the New Bottom Line, is about the business case for investing in social and environmental change. 

    Refreshingly, The New Bottom Line for the Network of Spiritual Progressives is about the same kind of thing that we started with:  

    "Instead of a bottom-line based on money and power, we need a new bottom-line that judges corporations, governments, schools, public institutions, and social practices as efficient, rational and productive not only to the extent they maximize money and power, but to the extent they maximize love and caring, ethical and ecological sensitivity, and our capacity to respond with awe and wonder at the grandeur of creation."

    - Rabbi Michael Lerner

    Today there's a fifth New Bottom Line in a book about social entrepreneurship - The Business of Good

    What's the betting it doesn't include any of what I describe which bagan 20 years ago, when our late founder argued:

    'Clearly, profits can be used very effectively in ways other than traditional investment and profit outcomes. Moreover, this is not charity, it is business--good business.

    'Massive greed and consequent massive human misery and suffering do not have to be accepted as a givens, unavoidable, intractable, irresolvable. Just changing the way business is done, if only by a few companies, can change the flow of wealth, ease and eliminate poverty, and leave us all with something better to worry about. Basic human needs such as food and shelter are fundamental human rights; there are more than enough resources available to go around--if we can just figure out how to share. It cannot be "Me first, mine first"; rather, "Me, too" is more the order of the day.'

     

     

     
  • feedwordpress 10:48:05 on 2016/10/23 Permalink  

    The Neoliberal takeover of social enterprise 

    it would be difficult to deny an association between social enterprise and neoliberalism in the UK context, as after all, it was introduced as government policy by Tony Blair and New Labour. The 2009 Social Enterprise Summit had been hosted by Lord Mandelson, who is no stranger to predatory oligarchs.

    While I endorse what Jyoti Sharma has argued about this in Stanford Social Innovation Review, my standpoint is that of a self sustaining social business which argued against neoliberalism in favour of an economy where people come before profit maximisation. We called it people-centered economics.

    In the core argument of the 1996 paper which described this model, our late founder argued 

    "Profit rules, people are expendable commodities represented by numbers.  The solution, and only solution, is to modify that output, measuring profit in terms of real human beings instead of numbers."

    More than a decade ago, it was Ruthie Gilmore of the Incite! organisation who spoke of the Non-profit Industrial Complex and how the proceeds of extractive capitalism go to foundations which preserve the interests of the wealthy.  They had failed to find an autonomous model and because of this, the revolution will not be funded.

     

    By and large, the funding of social enterpreneurship had been through such foundations. For example Ashoka and Skoll.

    Back in 2006, on Skoll World Forum, there was a discussion on Profit for a Purpose  which is how we described the People-Centered approach. We do business to create profit but distribute no dividends, using profit for social benefit.

    This was described in the interview which marked our introduction to the UK

    'The P-CED model is not a charity sort of operation. It is business. What we choose to do with profits is entirely up to us, and we choose before anything else happens to set most of our profits aside to assist poor people. In fact, our corporate charter requires us by law - UK law, where rule of law is very well established - to use our profits only for social benefit. We cannot do anything else with it.'

    It's been said, I remember not where, that the best way to prevent a revolution is to join it and change its direction. That would describe how "profit for purpose" was edged out by the similar sounding concept of "profit with purpose", "doing well by doing good" and other marketing taglines.

    It is something of a paradox that the argument for a 'profit for purpose' approach should be so well endorsed by readers of McKinsey's Long Term Capitalism challenge, where I described The New Bottom Line.    

    As it was reasoned later, in an interview with Axiom News , it was possible to raise investment capital from those expecting a return on investment without changing our own non dividend distribution strategy

    “When we get into divvying up financial profits it’s too easy to get sidetracked by a myriad of possibilities along those lines,” Hallman tells Axiom News.

    “In that case there is distraction from the primary objective of any given project, the social concerns for people at risk of exclusion, or already excluded, from the opportunity to have a decent, safe, secure life.”

    Hallman adds that if “a lot of emphasis is placed on financial returns, the usual suspects can and will get in, figure out to how strip out the social aspects of social businesses and keep all profits to themselves.”

    “Think of the corporate raiders on the loose in the U.S. in the 1980s. Same thing. That mindset is the driving force that has created such need for social businesses to begin with.”

     

     

     

     

     
  • feedwordpress 07:57:59 on 2016/10/22 Permalink  

    Bernie Sanders, Pope Francis and People over Profit 

    'There is nothing wrong with individuals becoming wealthy. It is only when wealth begins to concentrate in the hands of a relative few at the expense of billions of others who are denied even a small share of finite wealth that trouble starts and physical, human suffering begins. It does not have to be this way. Massive greed and consequent massive human misery and suffering do not have to be accepted as a givens, unavoidable, intractable, irresolvable. Just changing the way business is done, if only by a few companies, can change the flow of wealth, ease and eliminate poverty, and leave us all with something better to worry about. Basic human needs such as food and shelter are fundamental human rights; there are more than enough resources available to go around--if we can just figure out how to share. It cannot be "Me first, mine first"; rather, "Me, too" is more the order of the day.'

    These were the concluding words of a paper delivered to Bill Clinton at the White House on 16th September 1996. It described the concept of a people-centered form of economic development, using business to create social benefit.

    Today as the United States prepares for another presidential election Bernie Sanders endorses the views of Pope Francis and the need to use wealth to create a more humane society.

    In 2009 with his encyclical Caritas in Veritate, it was Pope Benedict who used the term people-centered to describe an economy for a more humane society:

    "Striving to meet the deepest moral needs of the person also has important and beneficial repercussions at the level of economics. The economy needs ethics in order to function correctly — not any ethics whatsoever, but an ethics which is people-centred."

    "This is not merely a matter of a “third sector”, but of a broad new composite reality embracing the private and public spheres, one which does not exclude profit, but instead considers it a means for achieving human and social ends. Whether such companies distribute dividends or not, whether their juridical structure corresponds to one or other of the established forms, becomes secondary in relation to their willingness to view profit as a means of achieving the goal of a more humane market and society. "

    "The strengthening of different types of businesses, especially those capable of viewing profit as a means for achieving the goal of a more humane market and society, must also be pursued in those countries that are excluded or marginalized from the influential circles of the global economy. In these countries it is very important to move ahead with projects based on subsidiarity, suitably planned and managed, aimed at affirming rights yet also providing for the assumption of corresponding responsibilities. In development programmes, the principle of the centrality of the human person, as the subject primarily responsible for development, must be preserved. The principal concern must be to improve the actual living conditions of the people in a given region, thus enabling them to carry out those duties which their poverty does not presently allow them to fulfil. "

    In 2004, with an interview about his work in Russia and Crimea. The man who delivered the paper to Bill Clinton spoke of his efforts to improve livelhoods in impoverished communities using the people-centered business model:    

    'Essentially, P-CED challenges conventional capitalism as an insufficient economic paradigm, as evidenced by billions of people in the world living in poverty in capitalist countries and otherwise. Under the conventional scheme, capitalism - enterprise for profit - has certainly transformed much of the world and created a new breed of people in capitalist societies, the middle class. That is a good thing. But, capitalism seems to have developed as far as it can to produce this new class of fairly comfortable people between rich and poor, at least in the West where it has flourished for quite some time.

    The problem is that profit and money still tend to accumulate in the hands of comparatively few people. Money, symbolically representing wealth and ownership of material assets, is not an infinite resource. When it accumulates in enormous quantities in the hands of a few people, that means other people are going to be denied. If everyone in the world has enough to live a decent life and not in poverty, then there is no great problem with some people having far more than they need. But, that's not the case, and there are no rules in the previous capitalist system to fix that. Profit and numbers have no conscience, and anything done in their name has been accepted as an unavoidable aspect of capitalism.'

    That same year, People-Centered Economic Development had been introduced to the UK with a business plan to tackle poverty, which argued:

    'While the vast majority of people in poverty suffer quietly and with little protest, it is not safe to assume that everyone will react the same way. When in defence of family and friends, it is completely predictable that it should be only a matter of time until uprisings become sufficient to imperil an entire nation or region of the world. People with nothing have nothing to lose. Poverty was therefore deemed not only a moral catastrophe but also a time bomb waiting to explode. Poverty reduction and relief became the overriding principle and fundamental social objective in the emerging P-CED model.

    Dealing with poverty is nothing new. The question became ‘how does poverty still exist in a world with sufficient resources for a decent quality of life for everyone?’ The answer was that we have yet to develop any economic system capable redistributing finite resources in a way that everyone has at minimum enough for a decent life: food, decent housing, transportation, clothing, health care, and education. The problem has not been lack of resources, but adequate distribution of resources. Capitalism is the most powerful economic engine ever devised, yet it came up short with its classical, inherent profit-motive as being presumed to be the driving force. Under that presumption, all is good in the name of profit became the prevailing winds of international economies — thereby giving carte blanche to the notion that greed is good because it is what has driven capitalism. The 1996 paper merely took exception with the assumption that personal profit, greed, and the desire to amass as much money and property on a personal level as possible are inherent and therefore necessary aspects of any capitalist endeavour. While it is in fact very normal for that to be the case, it simply does not follow that it must be the case.

    Profits can be set aside in part to address social needs, and often have been by way of small percentages of annual profits set aside for charitable and philanthropic causes by corporations. This need not necessarily be a small percentage. In fact, there is no reason why an enterprise cannot exist for the primary purpose of generating profit for social needs — i.e., a P-CED, or social, enterprise. This was seen to be the potential solution toward correcting the traditional model of capitalism, even if only in small-scale enterprises on an experimental basis.'

    At the end of 2004, finding himself unwelcome as a UK visitor, founder Terry Hallman travelled to Ukraine where a revolution against greed and corruption was just kicking off.  With the help of Maidan activists, he published the story of 'Death Camps, For Children' describing how profit was maximised from state care, while children oftren perished. These children became our primary focus in a 'Marshall Plan' for Ukraine:           

    'This is a long-term permanently sustainable program, the basis for "people-centered" economic development. Core focus is always on people and their needs, with neediest people having first priority – as contrasted with the eternal chase for financial profit and numbers where people, social benefit, and human well-being are often and routinely overlooked or ignored altogether. This is in keeping with the fundamental objectives of Marshall Plan: policy aimed at hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos. This is a bottom-up approach, starting with Ukraine's poorest and most desperate citizens, rather than a "top-down" approach that might not ever benefit them. They cannot wait, particularly children. Impedance by anyone or any group of people constitutes precisely what the original Marshall Plan was dedicated to opposing. Those who suffer most, and those in greatest need, must be helped first -- not secondarily, along the way or by the way. '

    The Marshall Plan for Ukraine was published online in August 2007.

    Around the same time as Caritas in Veritate, I read the following from the UN:

    “The anti-values of greed, individualism and exclusion should be replaced by solidarity, common good and inclusion. The objective of our economic and social activity should not be the limitless, endless, mindless accumulation of wealth in a profit-centred economy but rather a people-centred economy that guarantees human needs, human rights, and human security, as well as conserves life on earth. These should be universal values that underpin our ethical and moral responsibility.”

    (Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, the President of the United Nations General Assembly speaking in 2009)

    With his Evangelii Gaudium it was Pope Francis who said no to an economy of exclusion:

    '53. Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

    Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “throw away” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.

    54. In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase. In the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.'

     
  • feedwordpress 18:54:48 on 2016/10/20 Permalink  

    Capitalism is Unsustainable 

    From the International Economics for Ecology Conference at Sumy in 2010:

    "Among three main areas of economics, the financial sphere remains dominant over social economics and environmental economics. The reason for this is very simple: in order for any system of economics to be sustainable over time, it must first be financially sustainable. If a system costs more than it produces, it requires infinite inputs over time. Infinite inputs are not available in a finite world, and we live in a finite world. If we pursue a system that costs more than it produces financially, it must and will necessarily collapse. But now, the financial system itself is broken: it costs far more than it produces."

    What followed was the core argument from a 1996 paper which warned of the prospect of uprisings by those disenfranchised by this now broke  system.   

    It led to the creation of a business model for social benefit which by then was operating in Ukraine.  

    Our 2009 paper described as Economics in Transition, had raised these question:

    "At issue: how can we create an economy based on people, to achieve financial profit, social benefit, and a safer, cleaner environment.

    What would such an economy look like?  How can it work?  What can be done in Ukraine to achieve it?"

    For the speaker, who had been "out in the trenches" the most immediate concern was growing social unrest which had signs of turning to violent conflict

    In 2013, with my article Re-Imagining Capitalism - The New Bottom LIne I described the work of P-CED to Mckinsey's Long Term Capitalism Challenge.

    Interestingly later in 2013 Patagonia launched their Responsible Economy initiative:

    "In a recent essay, also titled “The Responsible Economy,” Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, explained: “Can we even imagine what an economy would look like that wouldn’t destroy the home planet? A responsible economy? During the next two years, Patagonia will try to face and explore that question. We’ll use real-world examples, not a lot of pie-in-the-sky theories. Most of all, we’re going to feel our way into how this question affects how we do business. It is the most ambitious and important endeavor we have ever undertaken.”

    I think I could reasonably say that we had imagined and delivered a real world example

    The following year Sustainable Brands followed up on the initiative

    When Patagonia launched its Responsible Economy campaign last fall, VP of Environmental Initiatives Rick Ridgeway eloquently summed up the ‘elephant in the room’ of capitalism: Growth is not sustainable. Ridgeway accepts that evolving from our current economic system will be especially challenging for larger companies with insatiable IPOs, but I’d like to share some ways it not only can be done but is being done.

    By then, violent conflict in Ukraine had begun.

     

     
  • feedwordpress 08:17:31 on 2016/10/13 Permalink  

    Is Compassion the Antidote for Neoliberalism? 

    Neoliberalism is making us lonely, says George Monbiot, highlighting the plight of those disenfranchised in today's economy.

    Noam Chomsky described neoliberalism as profit over people, so what would the converse look like?

    The concept of people-centred business has gained considerable traction in recent years, having been embraced by Coops Europe and Fair Trade international, describing business which puts people first. Advocates for a people-centred economy include the Vatican and the UN General Assembly  

    So what does business that puts people first actually mean in practice?

    People-Centered Economic Development derives from a paper for the steering group for the Committee to (Re)Elect the President, describing a business model which operates for social benefit rather than maximising shareholder returns.  

    In the core argument which critiqued the fractional reserve banking system the paper asserted:

    "Economics, and indeed human civilization, can only be measured and calibrated in terms of human beings.  Everything in economics has to be adjusted for people, first, and abandoning the illusory numerical analyses that inevitably put numbers ahead of people, capitalism ahead of democracy, and degradation ahead of compassion."

    Key Influences

    The work of Erich Fromm was one of several key influences on the the P-CED white paper t. In The Art of Loving, Fromm wrote:

    “Love of the helpless, the poor and the stranger, are the beginning of brotherly love. To love ones flesh and blood is no achievement. The animal loves its young and cares for them. Only in the love of those who do not serve a purpose, does love begin to unfold. Compassion implies the element of knowledge and identification. “

    Another was Rollo May who in Love and Will seems aware of the dawning social age.

    “I wrote Love and Will, because you cannot love unless you also can will. I think, and thought when I wrote that book, that a new way of love would come about. People would learn to be intimate again. They would write letters. There would be a feeling of friendship among people. Now, this is the new age that is coming, and I don’t think it’s a matter chiefly of philosophy.”

    The influence of Carl R Rogers, is in his person-centered psycho therapy is the belief that given access to needed resources, a person may resolve their own problems, flourish and grow. Putting this into the context of business and economics to stimulate wealth creation within impoverished communities yields the name People-Centered Economic Development and a business which makes people its central focus.

    Though Tolstoy is not mentioned in the bibliography, his perception of The Law of Love and the Law of Violence has been a personal inspiration. At the time of a census in Moscow, Tolstoy asked ‘What to Do’ about the problem of those in poverty.

    “Good consists not in the giving of money, it consists in the loving intercourse of men. This alone is needed. Whatever may be the outcome of this, any thing will be better than the present state of things. Then let the final act of our enumerators and directors be to distribute a hundred twenty-kopek pieces to those who have no food; and this will be not a little, not so much because the hungry will have food, because the directors and enumerators will conduct themselves in a humane manner towards a hundred poor people. How are we to compute the possible results which will accrue to the balance of public morality from the fact that, instead of the sentiments of irritation, anger, and envy which we arouse by reckoning the hungry, we shall awaken in a hundred instances a sentiment of good, which will be communicated to a second and a third, and an endless wave which will thus be set in motion and flow between men? And this is a great deal.”

    The 1996 white paper concluded:

    “Just changing the way business is done, if only by a few companies, can change the flow of wealth, ease and eliminate poverty, and leave us all with something better to worry about. Basic human needs such as food and shelter are fundamental human rights; there are more than enough resources available to go around–if we can just figure out how to share. It cannot be “Me first, mine first”; rather, “Me, too” is more the order of the day.”

    The Tatars of Crimea

    From Crimea in 2003, with a strategy plan for Crimea's repatriated Tatars, Hallman reassned:

    'By leaving people in poverty, at risk of their lives due to lack of basic living essentials, we have stepped across the boundary of civilization. We have conceded that these people do not matter, are not important. Allowing them to starve to death, freeze to death, die from deprivation, or simply shooting them, is in the end exactly the same thing. Inflicting or allowing poverty on a group of people or an entire country is a formula for disaster.

    These points were made to the President of the United States near the end of 1996. They were heard, appreciated and acted upon, but unfortunately, were not able to be addressed fully and quickly due primarily to political inertia. By way of September 11, 2001 attacks on the US out of Afghanistan – on which the US and the former Soviet Union both inflicted havoc, destruction, and certainly poverty – I rest my case. The tragedy was proof of all I warned about, but, was no more tragedy than that left behind to a people in an far corner of the world whom we thought did not matter and whom we thought were less important than ourselves.

    We were wrong.'

    Poverty in the UK

    Introducing P-CED to the UK in 2004 with a business plan to tackle poverty, P-CED argued:  

    "Capitalism is the most powerful economic engine ever devised, yet it came up short with its classical, inherent profit-motive as being presumed to be the driving force. Under that presumption, all is good in the name of profit became the prevailing winds of international economies — thereby giving carte blanche to the notion that greed is good because it is what has driven capitalism. The 1996 paper merely took exception with the assumption that personal profit, greed, and the desire to amass as much money and property on a personal level as possible are inherent and therefore necessary aspects of any capitalist endeavour. While it is in fact very normal for that to be the case, it simply does not follow that it must be the case."

    Ukraine's Revolution

    Calling for support in 2006, founder Terry Hallman wrote in a 'Marshall Plan' for Ukraine of the need to place abandoned children in family homes, saying

    “There is no substitute for a loving family environment for growing children. Existing state care institutions do not and cannot possibly provide this – despite occasional, lingering claims that state care is the best care for children. This attitude is a holdover from Soviet times when the state was idealized as the best possible caretaker for all, including children. Stark reality does not support that notion.”

    The 'Marshall Plan' concluded:

    'This is a long-term permanently sustainable program, the basis for "people-centered" economic development. Core focus is always on people and their needs, with neediest people having first priority – as contrasted with the eternal chase for financial profit and numbers where people, social benefit, and human well-being are often and routinely overlooked or ignored altogether. This is in keeping with the fundamental objectives of Marshall Plan: policy aimed at hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos. This is a bottom-up approach, starting with Ukraine's poorest and most desperate citizens, rather than a "top-down" approach that might not ever benefit them. They cannot wait, particularly children. Impedance by anyone or any group of people constitutes precisely what the original Marshall Plan was dedicated to opposing. Those who suffer most, and those in greatest need, must be helped first -- not secondarily, along the way or by the way. '

    The impact on government policy and subsequent influence can be seen in ‘Every Child Deserves a Family‘, an article published recently by Maidan, in Ukraine, who were the people who discovered his body and published an extract of his communication to USAID and the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. His letter ended:

    “I and others shall continue to think positive and look for aid budgets and funding spigots to be opened much more for people and NGOs in silos, foxholes and trenches, insisting on better than ordnance, and who understand things and how to fix them. We can do that. We can even do it cost-effectively and with far better efficiency than the ordnance route. Welcome to our brave new world. Except it’s not so new: learn to love and respect each other first, especially the weakest, most defenseless, most voiceless among us, then figure out the rest. There aren’t other more important things to do first. This message has been around for at least two thousand years. How difficult is it for us to understand?”

    The Vatican and the UN General Assembly.

    With his 2009 encyclical Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict appealed for an ethics in our economy which is people-centred, describing a new reality of profit applied for the creation of a more humane society.

    Around the same time the president of the UN General Assembly argued:

    “The anti-values of greed, individualism and exclusion should be replaced by solidarity, common good and inclusion. The objective of our economic and social activity should not be the limitless, endless, mindless accumulation of wealth in a profit-centred economy but rather a people-centred economy that guarantees human needs, human rights, and human security, as well as conserves life on earth. These should be universal values that underpin our ethical and moral responsibility.”

    (Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, the President of the United Nations General Assembly speaking in 2009)

    "The future of business lies in people not profit" says the Guardian, as if unaware of any part of the above..

     

     
  • feedwordpress 15:39:55 on 2016/10/09 Permalink  

    Should you trust a social enterprise bank? 

    On the face of it, Erste Bank had the right credentials. A Grameen social business partner as was Grameen Creative Labs..

    In the Summer of 2010, when the Social Business Tour is  hosted in Budapest and calls  for submissions in an Idea Contest 

    Do you have a social business idea? We help you realise it!

    By then our work has gone far beyond an idea, having long been published as a strategy plan on a very prominent website. It described a 'Marshall Plan' for Ukraine which had been in the hands of USAID since February 2008   I introduce them to our earlier work in Russia:

    Dear Jeff,

    thank you very much for contacting us concerning Your microfinance inintiative in Tomsk – could you provide us with more information on the activies you are pursuing in Ukraine and Russia currently?

    As we are closely cooperating with Grameen Creative Lab currently on the so called Social Business Tour, and as I could understand from your mail you have already tried to be in contact with GCL, I think that we could potentially help you, if we would know what you want is your proposal?

    Could you provide us with a summary of your activities and plans where you see our added value?

    My very best regards,
    Jan

    Jan Kouba
    Erste Group Bank AG
    OE 0196 0324 / good.bee
    A-1010 Vienna, Friedrichstrasse 10

    I reply and receive an acknowledgement  of submission on 9th July:

    Dear Jan,

    Thanks very much for your reply. I am copying this to Terry our founder , currently in Ukraine.

    The project is described here on our website and later reviewed in an interview for a follow on project in Crimea.

    The strategy paper delivered to Ukraine’s government can be found here, in the links on our commercial website you’ll see impacts created when recommendations were implemented by government

    Child care reform for example has led to a 40% increase in domestic adoption.

    I should also mention, noticing that you have Serbia listed as one of your development areas, that Terry spent a week during 2004 to produce a preliminary proposal for the polluted Bor/Majdanpek region, which he may care to expand on.

    Kind regards,

    Jeff Mowatt
    P-CED UK  

    This marks the end of the conversation with competition winners later announced.  A few months later however , I’m shocked to see that our social enterprise proposal for Ukraine  under another banner with Erste as one of the partners.  The British Council who promote British culture and values overseas, taking the lead.  For many it will confirm what has long been suspected of business plan competitions.

    In August 2010 our social business plan is described in an interview with Axiom News, where the proposal of a social investment fund is mentioned:

    "The funds will be directed to concluding a project in the Ukraine which involves funding the training of residents to develop social businesses. Included in this work is supporting children who have disabilities, many of whom have been left to die in secretive locations. P-CED is helping to move these children to safety and give them access to modern healthcare."

    Founder Terry Hallman spoke out about child abuse and corruption at considerable risk. A year later the last person to see him alive was a leader of Maidan civic activists, who wrote quoting from his letter to USAID - 'Whether these kids live or die, is of little, if any, interest to Mafia'

    "The author of breakthru report “Death camps for children” Terry Hallman suddenly died of grave disease on Aug 18 2011. On his death bed he was speaking only of his mission – rescuing of these unlucky kids. His dream was to get them new homes filled with care and love. His quest would be continued as he wished."

    One of his last actions was to contact another USAID partner, PWC, about abuse of copyright 

    It's something of a paradox, that these efforts having met such resistance should be so well approved when I shared the story of people-centered economic development with McKinsey's Long Term Capitalism challenge. My submission described how capitalism could be applied to deliver social as well as econoimic returns, where people and their needs have priority.  The New Bottom Line, as I described it.

    'This is a long-term permanently sustainable program, the basis for "people-centered" economic development. Core focus is always on people and their needs, with neediest people having first priority – as contrasted with the eternal chase for financial profit and numbers where people, social benefit, and human well-being are often and routinely overlooked or ignored altogether. This is in keeping with the fundamental objectives of Marshall Plan: policy aimed at hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos. This is a bottom-up approach, starting with Ukraine's poorest and most desperate citizens, rather than a "top-down" approach that might not ever benefit them. They cannot wait, particularly children. Impedance by anyone or any group of people constitutes precisely what the original Marshall Plan was dedicated to opposing. Those who suffer most, and those in greatest need, must be helped first -- not secondarily, along the way or by the way. '

    By them social breakdown was not far away. In February 2014 I shared an appeal for support from the EU with my MEPs in the South West. It came from the Maidan leader who discovered Terry's body. Their requests included support with economic development:  

    "Support political reforms and economic development: When the new government is in place, support Ukraine financially to get on a path of sustainable economic revival. A kind of „Marshall Plan“, can bring long-term economic benefits to Ukraine and save it from otherwise imminent long-term default."

    Was it just a coincidence, that around the same time, at the Davos Philanthropic Roundtable, capitalism with both financial and social  returns was being discussed? On the panel Muhammad Yunus joined Bill Gates and Sir Richard Branson. 

    Truth, it's been said, is one of the first casualties of war.  Among the first non-combatent casualties in Ukraine were passengers on Malaysian Airways flight MH17

    Their bodies were scattered over the small town of Torez,  Some landed in the grounds of the orphanage described in 'Death Camps for Children' where other bodies lay in rough trenches.  

    "I saw eight more bodies up the street that day, all of them mostly naked, falling right from the clouds on us,” said Larisa Zvereva, a teacher at the orphanage that houses 20 children. Her charges must have holy protection, she said, because not a single falling body, nor any piece of the airplane hurt the children or local people. Then Zvereva began to sob uncontrollably, remembering the wounds, the torn limbs and missing parts of bodies."

    Ruslan, a 14 year old orphan, wanted to know why a decapitated boy found in the garden had died.

    Trust however, is essential when it  comes to social enterprise, regardless of experience and personal cost.

     

     

       

     
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