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November 30, 2009


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What strikes me is that the name "Philanthropy" has nothing to do with gifts of highbrow donors, or donors of any stripes wanting to "make a statement". If you got back to the basic humanism or the name, lovers of mankind, you would be closer to the core. You can't love mankind in your private life while you make your wealth destroying the world.

Phil Cubeta

You won't generate many gifts being hostile to capitalism. In fact, in a standard textbook on major gift fundraising, The Artful Journey, by William Sturtevant, fundraisers are expressly enjoined to be supporters of the free market system lest they alienate those whose wallet they wish to tap. Fundraisers are explicity told that no one owes any gift to any organization. Appeals to guilt or moral responsibility should be avoided.

As to appeals to vanity, well, that is ok.


Is that really true? I know that is the advise everyone gives, but why is the free market system sacrosanct? If you see systematic problems created for humankind by certain principle they hold, then to point it out is admirable, no? How is that different than what you propose to do with satire?

If the structural aspects of the free market are not even available to critique even by supporters and benefitiaries of that system, then I think the system is in control and not the humans. If they want to allow thieves into their homes to walk off with all the valuables, they are welcome to keep doing that.

How many philanthropists made out in the great swindle that came to a head in 2008? How many lost millions that they could have better given away to Bernie Madoff? Calls for "free markets" are like the calls for "patriotism", they are made by swindlers, con-artists and traitors to protect themselves from the rightful wrath of the swindled, rich and poor alike.


Also, shouldn't a "social investor" be someone who invests in the social space, in other words in building commonly held assets?

I find it a perversion of the idea that it has come to mean "business people trying to carve out a profitable niche in the social benefit sector". This is how the privatization of the medical care system started, then for-profit entities started buying up non-profit assets and making them generate profits. How much has already been lost to profits, that would otherwise have benefitted the public?

Phil Cubeta

"I find it a perversion of the idea that it has come to mean "business people trying to carve out a profitable niche in the social benefit sector". That is a growing niche in philanthropy. Also, though, it is about language. MBA is now the preferred credential for many people who want to "do well and do good." So even when the goals are admirable the language is that of bidnis.

In general, yes, those with money, particularly self made money are often conservative. The system worked for them; they strove and achieved. How bad can the system be?

Creating common pool resources, the language around that, is embryonic. Elinor Ostrom's work may become better known now she has a Nobel prize. Open source and open space are vital movements. Your currencies and flow communities are pioreering a language around preserving and enhancing the commons, but how many wealthy people or highly successful business people participate? So, you still have a resource issue. At one level the context is obvious: Those who have little will favor spreading wealth, either to them or to common pool resources in which they participate as peers, share and share alike, without regard to income or net worth. Those with most favor "freedom" to continue concentrating wealth. How we increase total wealth, economic, intellectual, social, spiritual, is the question, but it is such a big question that asking it elicits what sounds like a Tower of Babel. The Free Market says it will increase every relevant dimension of wealth, but the list of addictions grows daily, and the number of people addicted, to debt, shopping, drugs, alchohol, gambling, pornography. Depression is endemic. ADD is everywhere. Can we say that the quality of life is good and getting better? Econ does not treat of these things. Freedom means giving every addict access to the fix of choice, as long as it can be paid for and it not illegal. "Excellence," or freedom as heightened capacities, that is a whole other subject. To achieve depth and breadth as a full human being - I suspect that an MBA is not the best credential, nor is an MBA run world conducive to, well, "virtue," community, or civic friendship, volunteerism and local resilience.


The sort of "Heavy Payload", that a social investment should be carrying is in terms of common pool resources. Which is to say if you take seriously your social investment mission, you will look to other measures than profitability to assess your impact.

The real question is what is their record? Take the medical field example. If moving to MBA advised organizational plans you can go several broad directions, in some scenarios the change results in more resources available to the mission of health, towards open collaborations that not only produce valuable medical breakthroughs for the benefit of all, but also for your organization and others in a collaborative ecology of business to generate much needed revenue for current and future research investments. In another scenario the change results in privatizing more research and diminishing the commons of shared research and knowledge, and it maximizes revenue through a style of market competition that is more like warfare.

We are sold privatization plans based on the idea that the first scenario is the likely outcome, but the legal and ethical climate that carries is the latter. It is about time we started exercising our collective choice to not support enterprises that are killing us. If you are a social investor and your business plan resembles the latter more than the former, maybe you should rethink those plans. I don't think many social investors are intentionally in that category, but we have to be able to raise these questions among the communities of social investment.

That's why the semiotic processes are so important to me in the currency design work. If the systems can be gamed, then the marks of good social investment can be forged by the brand marketers, and the signs no longer mean what they claim to mean. Double meaning, multiple audiences and all that jazz that turns many of us into well-meaning dupes. The protocols we are designing are general and don't implement these value judgments, but rather we expect that value will emerge from natural semiotic processes that follow those protocols. We will find patterns of protocols that give the qualities we desire as described above.

I'm not completely sure of my knowledge here, but I think the protocol is at the level of semantics, and the latter is pragmatics. The former being a twoness (law/logic) and the latter, threeness (being, ?).


Also reflecting on this in the context of Social Imagination.

Michael Maranda spoke to me a while back about the idea of "semiotic violence" defined as anything that "stops thought". I would claim that most of the work of "MBA logic" is of this kind, violence against the processes of unfolding in the semiosis of culture.

Phil Cubeta

Pragmatics gets into rhetoric, the getting of things done through words and gestures. Words are gamed by poets, prophets, paid liars, politicians, lovers, and poets to move us, inspire us, fill us with indignation, set us off to war, heaven, or war. Pragmatics or rhetoric is about how to use character (speaker), the utterance, ethos (shared background), to move an audience to insight or action, or to delusion and action. Most pragmatics does not much enliven us. But it is what can also save us. Medicine/poison. The language of business used in social contexts upsets me because it is inherently the langauge of ownership, privatiization, and self aggrandizement with "the market" mysteriously brining good from crassness. The langauge of philanthropy or giving is about intending good things and acheiving them on purpose not for self primarily but for society. That is the langauge of stewardship.

Patriots Jersey

Even our language of giving should reflect our preferred cultural identity.

Patriots Jersey

My metrics are Businesslike. I rule through Reason. To me art thou accountable.http://www.nflpatriotsproshop.com/

Phil Cubeta

Rimbaud emblazoned on the jersey.

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