Friday, May 27, 2005

Designing Healthy Communities

I have no problem with promoting self-interest. What I can't follow blindly is a pursuit of any economic model or goal without an understanding of the potential costs associated with reaching that goal. Some call this enlightened self-interest.

As individuals, we will always be pursuing our self-interest. It's in our nature, and there is no way to escape from the reality of our origins whether you believe that we evolved from the long path of evolution or listened to the words of our creator saying 'be fruitful and multiply'.

In the end, the differences between these two origin stories are moot when we look forward into the future and realize the costs of what we have been doing over the last 200 years to ourselves, our planet and our potential.

Let's define economics. Economics is the social science that studies the allocation of scare resources through measurable variables. The word was coined around 1870, right after the Civil War and after the publication of Charles Darwin's "Origin of Species". The connection becomes clear when you read the book "Midwestern Progressive Politics" by Russell Nye.

The origin of the modern corporation occured around the same time, with the invention the railroads and spread of the Trusts, Standard Oil, etc. But the war between the Conservative Movement and Progressive Movement goes back to the beginning of time. It is a struggle between two sides of the same coin. It is the Golden Rule vs. the Rule of Gold. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" vs. "he who has the gold, makes the rules". Think of the Neo-con movement as a
parasite on society. Bush is a host. Even Rove is a host. The parasite is a meme, which is a thought pattern based on the rule of gold. That is what the long term and eternal fight is about.

What I believe we need to do is add a level of decision maker to the decision making process for the corporations, non-profits and government. By designating "We the People" in the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson started this process. But it never caught on in the one economic entity that now needs it. The Corporation.

Right now, the decision makers for the corporation are the Board of Directors. These are people selected by the largest shareholders and confirmed via vote by the rest of the shareholders of the corporation. What we need to do is identify the other people who should have a voice in the decision making process. The Stakeholders of a corporation include everyone that does business with that entity, everyone who lives
in the community the corporation operates in, and everyone who is affected by the environmental changes the corporation creates. So, given that the corporation is driven exclusively by the pursuit of Profit, what we need to do is put two more measures of evaluation into the minds of the decision makers. Those two are Community and Environment.

In my mind, a Healthy Community is comprised of individuals and legal entities, meaning corporations, non-profits and governments, that recognize all three of these measures when making decisions.

Let's talk about how to make it happen.

Chad Lupkes