Who pays when the state can’t?

We don’t need public services and welfare spending primarily because commercial markets are a bad way of meeting social need but because they’re a bad way of determining what ‘social need’ means… ” – the latest in my series of Pioneers Post blogs on public service reform and social innovation.


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4 responses to “Who pays when the state can’t?

  1. Rather than blaming the ‘markets’, are you sure you aren’t referring to the ‘valuation system’ instead?
    What people value has shifted from profit driven motives to purpose driven motives.
    The thing about business, is that it hasn’t caught up with this relatively sudden wind-shift. It knows it needs to (be more purpose driven and less profit driven) but it’s finding it hard – a bit like all organisations/institutions that aren’t really that agile or lean.
    New businesses find it easier to respond to this shift in consumer and citizen demand than old ones. So the market is playing catch-up with the new drivers of business – ethics/values/empathy/compassion etc etc.
    For me the problem lies in valuation.
    Why is Facebook valued so highly (by the stock market) and Sunshine House Community Centre in Wigan so undervalued? Why are communities and good causes so generally undervalued?
    Why are the arts undervalued?
    Why is grass roots football undervalued?
    Our valuation system is to blame for many of the faults that get pinned on the markets.
    Markets thrive on information but when pricing signals don’t value values/ethics/empathy, one might argue that not only do we need a new way to value community contribution, but we need a new way to account for it and exchange it once it has been produced.
    Communities that are given the chance to solve their own problems produce not just more community, but cashable savings.
    To improve their own reputation and distinguish themselves from their competition, businesses want to support such communities with time, money and talents. They just don’t know where to begin such a process.
    New markets are emerging to transform how society’s goodwill connects to the communities and causes that need it most.
    Don’t blame the markets, blame the system.


    • Mike, this is the first I’ve heard about Douglas Hind and he’s right in saying that the Tories took other people’s ideas for a joyride. But then, they’re not alone.

      Consider the word pioneer as in Pioneers Post, the New Pioneers and Deloitte Pioneers, all earning revenue from the theme of purpose driven business. The best way to take ownership of other’s work and ideas is to assert that they don’t already exist.

      You don’t find that so prevelant in conventional business forums where as you may observe, these concepts have gathered some appreciation. it all starts with a question – how can we better serve people?



  2. Oh, I forgot to add that I’ve met Dougald. He’s full of good ideas but I question his ability to make a shift at grass roots level. There’s a bit of Einstein about him: In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not.


  3. We pay David.
    What I mean is that we can pay forward as a business for the common good or perhaps later, in human lives. Consider this suggestion from our work in 2006:

    “An inherent assumption about capitalism is that profit is defined only in terms of monetary gain. This assumption is virtually unquestioned in most of the world. However, it is not a valid assumption. Business enterprise, capitalism, must be measured in terms of monetary profit. That rule is not arguable. A business enterprise must make monetary profit, or it will merely cease to exist. That is an absolute requirement. But it does not follow that this must necessarily be the final bottom line and the sole aim of the enterprise. How this profit is used is another question. It is commonly assumed that profit will enrich enterprise owners and investors, which in turn gives them incentive to participate financially in the enterprise to start with.

    That, however, is not the only possible outcome for use of profits. Profits can be directly applied to help resolve a broad range of social problems: poverty relief, improving childcare, seeding scientific research for nationwide economic advancement, improving communications infrastructure and accessibility, for examples – the target objectives of this particular project plan. The same financial discipline required of any conventional for-profit business can be applied to projects with the primary aim of improving socioeconomic conditions. Profitability provides money needed to be self-sustaining for the purpose of achieving social and economic objectives such as benefit of a nation’s poorest, neediest people. In which case, the enterprise is a social enterprise.’

    As I’ve recently discovered in 2007, INCITE! published “The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the NonProfit Industial Complex which examined the potential for autonomous social innovation.

    This NGO/Foundation led culture would turn out to be one of our own greatest obstacles. Today we all pay the price in places as far apart as Donetsk and Ferguson MI.



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