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Posted at 04:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Want to Help People? Just Give Them Money, by Jacqueline Fuller, at HBR Blog.
Investments in common goods such as roads, schools and wells are critical in helping people out of poverty. But GiveDirectly has a new concept: What if cash transfers are used as a standard benchmark against which to measure all development aid? What if every nonprofit that focused on poverty alleviation had to prove they could do more for the poor with a dollar than the poor could do for themselves?
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The Future of Good is like The Future of Retail. The Future of Good would roll up, scale up, consolidate, or destroy any nonprofit too small to pay a McKinsey, Arabella, Bain, or Bridgespan consulting fee to conform to investor standards and protocols. The Future of Good has no mercy, no interest in, and no love for the small, the fallen and those who tend them. Creative destruction of culture, ecosystems - all that it deems a social economy, and nothing lies outside that economy, not intellectual property, not art, not even our genes, our polity, or spiritual and civic life. The Future of Good is Social, as Facebook is social. The triumph of Dullness and Dark Night is inevitable, and far advanced. The wise herald it, only a Dunce would fight it. In that spirit let us quietly prepare for what comes after The Future of Good - small, resilient, local, amidst the ruins. Let us keep those traditions alive. We are going to need them.
Posted at 03:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Let us say in promoting life on this earth there are two approaches.
I. Business Plan
II. Farmer, Teacher, Parent, Shepherd
The first approach is that of Bridgespan, Lucy Bernholz, Bain, Mckinsey, FSG, et al. The second is that of charity, family, and the economy of love and gratitude. The second is the garden after the fall. The first is the city under Pentheus, the rule of reason.
What is hard for the spiritually stinted over-achiever to understand what it meant by human flourishing. They are themselves the product of their own system, the endless measurement and management of humanity - board scores, rated colleges, class ranks, performance reviews, merit-based raises, list of the 400 wealthiest, endlessly culled until what remains are the ones who play by the rules, game the rules, and own and manage the rules by which we and all that exists is measured managed optimized and now is on the verge of global extinction. The sum total of all their double and triple bottomlines is death. Species extinction. The future of good is death, ecocide.
Against that we have the second approach above, which is in some ways earlier, historically, both more primitive and more permanent. It precedes and follows the well managed world and is its substrate, the basis for any humanity at all. I learned much of what I understand of that second world through Catholic teaching as a kid, kneeling by my mother, from women's philanthropy and social organizing (Tracy Gary and Hildy Gottlieb), from the work of Martha Nussbaum and Amartya Sen, but also through immersion in the traditions of English literature and its antecedents. These works were written in an earlier age, an agrarian age, and they show if read a certain way, the evolution of the first worldview from the second. (Hard Times for example is Dickens' take on this. Most of William Blake is a commentary on it. Wordsworth chronicles it. Heidegger follows the thread from the pre-Socratics, to a disastrous near-present.)
In Mario Marino's reply to my critique is hope. His reply evinces both a change of heart and a change of mind. Metanoia. That is the old word for change of mind and heart, and is sometimes translated as repentance. What makes that possible in Mario, I think, is that he recalls and honors a mother, father, a neighborhood, and a church. Those seeds are in him and have not withered. He seeds back what was seeded in him, and back in his old neighborhood. His "philanthropy" is charity with purpose, love with method. Also what makes his change of mind and heart possible (and continual, a pronounced pattern) is that he believes in theory fitting fact, and see blindness to fact as a personal failing to be corrected to the extent humanly possible, even when it means admitting error. He is invested in results, rather than an heroic image of himself.
Moral Tutorials for America's Wealthiest Families on this site are a sick joke at my expense. I am the wounded healer whose corruption is contagious. Physician heal thyself! The Socratic method, real dialogue, puts both parties at mortal risk, as in surgery performed with shaky hand on a violent king. (See Plutarch's Life of Alexander the Great; it is more than a moral biography, it is a warning to surgeons and trusted advisors who would heal or correct an impetuous king.) Call it as Socrates did, the maieutic method, meaning the method of the midwife, who brings new life into the world, sometimes in the death of the old life, that of the mother. Such dialogue is the pharmakon/pharmakos (medicine, poison, scapegoat, pariah, savior in its etemology). The healer is the medicine; but the pharmakon, or pharmacist, is also the pharmakos, the scapegoat, through which a sick society is purged, bled, cauterized, and healed. This is the dance of the goat. It awakens the forces of life and even of inspiration and frenzy and also the counter-forces of repression, suppression, authority, closing of ranks, surveillance, ostracism, stony silence, denial, and death. Jesus, Socrates, Cicero, several counselors to Alexander, and so many have died for their insubordination, their parrhesia (freespokenness to power, and also, be it noted, the pleading for forgiveness; freedom as poetic license, subject to revocation, where apologies may not be accepted, and the forfeit may be one's life or career.) "The bow is bent, make from the shaft," as King Lear says in his fury at being questioned by his subordinates as he makes disastrous choices. Best to make light of it all in the Augustan manner, of jest, foolishness, carnival, banter, raillery, and the earnest praise of folly. Serio ludere. Serious play. Satire, parody, irreverence. This is Way of the World Class Fool. Comic inversion. Carnival where the king and the pauper exchange roles, and the priest fornicates with the prostitute or with his favorite altar boy publicly and openly on the altar, beneath the sign of the sacrified god, before the drunken Bishop passes the chalice filled with the blood of the grape, sacred to the dying and reborn god of unacknowledged desire. The muse, the holy spirit, the great god Dionysus. Read The Bacchae if you want to know how the first line of thought, the rule of reason, ends. Or consider The Sleep of Reason by Goya, among the Capricos he left unprinted, to be circulated only after his death.
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In the very interesting, and quite revealing debate about foundations and democracy sparked by an essay on that topic by Rob Reich of Stanford are these trenchant observations by Rick Cohen, a longstanding advocate for social justice philanthropy. I used highlighter to make the devastating points visible at a glance.
The most headsup major gift fundraising consultant I know says, privately, the small to mid-size social service orgs have no idea what is about to hit them, at the very time the social needs are greater than ever, and the organizations themselves are on the verge of collapse. That is the social economy, I guess. The future of good looks bleak for many but there has never been a better time to be rich in America.
Foundations are also narrowing the scope of nonprofits that might have a stake in the philanthropic world by making fewer, larger grants to smaller circles of organizations, under the guise of strategic giving. Increasing numbers of foundations are refusing to consider, much less fund, unsolicited proposals from nonprofits, and many instead support initiatives that they originate, design, and largely run. Aggregate grant totals mask the shrinking amount of money actually accessible to the broad mass of nonprofits.
In a recent development, foundation leaders, such as Ralph Smith of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, have pronounced themselves “sector agnostic,” meaning that they feel no particular allegiance to nonprofits and are free to support projects from for-profit entities if those projects fit the mission priorities of the foundations. Many foundations are directly and indirectly supporting privatization efforts. Apparently, in these boardrooms, nonprofits are yesterday’s news, not up to the entrepreneurial challenges of modern societal problem solving. Some foundations—including the Gates, Ford, Cummins, Schwab, and Skoll Foundations—have been supportive of so-called hybrid organizations, for-profits that claim to be carrying out social or charitable missions.
Posted at 03:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
A fascinating glimpse into the world of billionaire heirs engaged in impact investing, and those who serve them. Jared Dubey, at UBS, says trends will be good for his business since,
Overall, the amount of wealth being created at the high end is growing exponentially. There’s a widening gap between the wealthy and the ultra-wealthy. These inheritors and their families are looking for answers and an ability to make things happen, which is what we provide. This is all good for my business.
When the knuckleheads working with closely held business owners worth, say, $5 mil say they are doing dynastic wealth planning so that their business owners don't go from "shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations" (Jay Hughe's line), I wish they would realize that $100 mil is the low end for dynastic wealth, a bare minimum. The exponential growth is in the billion dollar plus dynasts. As for doing good, the more wealth in the fewer hands the more good that will come out of it. I was fascinated with Jared, so connected and so young, so I went to his personal site. Very little there except his CV and that is encrypted - you have to email for permission to read it. Strictly on a need to know basis. I may try that for my Moral Consulting business, to lend a little cachet with those who themselves demand the utmost confidentiality and discretion. Private Morals Consulting - like Concierge Medical Care - available at all hours day or night around the globe. When you have a moral emergency, we can refer you to a Dumpster within easy walking distance.
Posted at 11:53 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
At the margins of public discussion are serious, educated, people thinking for themselves about the direction our times are taking. David Ellerman is one:
This is a paper written to further Richard Cornuelle’s abiding vision of a more responsible economy and posted here to invite comment. The basic idea is revisit the whole idea of a market economy dominated by absentee-owned and publicly traded corporations (“Wall Street Capitalism”) that disconnect companies (“the Mother of all disconnects”) from the natural desires of the people working in the companies to improve their communities. Locally-owned family firms, worker cooperatives, employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), and even Japanese-style community firms are alternative forms of enterprises that are naturally more socially responsible. The point is not to assume large companies run by disconnected managers who need to be trained or incentivized to be more “socially responsible.” The point is to look at forms of corporate organization wherein the company staff can use their organized capacities to improve their own communities so that markets will naturally operate in a more responsible manner. Instead of only trying to make the philanthropic sector work better to clean up after irresponsible absentee-owned businesses; the idea is to make enterprises and markets more responsible in the first place.
Among the marginal, or heterodox, thinkers who might engage with some version of this critque are Catherine Austin Fitts, Bill Schambra, Albert Ruesga, Lenore Ealy, James Howard Kuntsler, Dmitry Orlov, Jon Husband, Dave Pollard and others of very diverse political views, and from very diverse traditions. What is hard to ignore is that absentee capitalism, Wall Street capitalism, the world of hedgefunds, IPOS, and profit maximization quarter to quarter is not the capitalism of the Scottish Englightenment or Rotary. When I visit Bridgespan and see their clients I can see, that yes, this is philanthropy - the .000001%, who own or control most of the world, working with a former Bain guy and his growing team of MBA consultants extrapolating an ideology they have no motive or ability to question, as masters of the universe, running all by metrics, and largely from a distance. The coming disruptions, the real disruptions, are not among those Clay Christiansen talks about, nor does it lead to a techno-utopia; it is the breakdown of the fragile, over managed, and increasingly unjust and unsustainable absentee owner measure and manage culture of unchecked winners, and the ecosystems their approach has destroyed through negative externalities - the necessary ingredient in this witch's brew of double triple quadruple bottomlines. When it all falls apart and we are pushed back down into local communities it will be the guy who can repair a bicycle or grow tomatoes, or distill ethyl alcohol from corn or woodchips, or pipe methane from the town dump, or run a black market in pantyhose who will be the local bigshot, warlord, or philanthropist. That guy or woman may finally create a market for Moral Tutorials that is sustainable, on a small scale, I can only hope. I am sure not getting much traction with hedge fund managers, though one did call me about improving the morals of his gardener. There was not much I could do, though, since I do not speak Spanish.
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To Whom it May Concern
Gifthub is an immortal work of art in theMenippean Tradition,written in a Padded Cell (he calls it a Dumpster for obvious reasons) in a state of shock by Phil Cubeta, Morals Tutor to America's Wealthiest Families, under an alias, or alter ego, The Happy Tutor, Dungeon Master to the Stars in Wealth Bondage...... More....
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