Economic inclusion and the Catholic Church
In 2014 in the Great Business Debate initiated by the CBI Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster asks - Should business have a socially responsible purpose?
"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 "
Blogging for Respublica Joanne Green of Catholic Social Teaching writes:
"Whilst staying silent on a preferred model of economic organisation, CST’s most fundamental challenge to the market, business and economy is that it must have a purpose and that purpose must be to serve wider society and indeed, the common good. The Common Good can be summed up as seeking the good of all people, with no group or individual being left out"
It had escaped my notice until asking recently - What is the Purpose of Business. that the the same question had been asked within the University of Notre Dame last year when Rev, Oliver Williams C.S.C wrote::
WHAT IS the purpose of business? Asked this question, any random group will probably have the majority saying: "To make money, of course." It may come as a surprise to some that a growing number of business leaders assume a much wider purpose of business. One of those leaders, John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, puts it this way: "The purpose of business is to create sustainable value for all stakeholders." (See his recent coauthored book, Conscious Capitalism). Other business leaders who share this perspective include Howard Schultz of Starbucks, Bill Kelleher of Southwest Airlines, Bill George of Medtronic, Ratan N. Tata of Tata Sons, and Biz Stone of Twitter. Increasingly, business leaders are focusing on the dignity of all their stakeholders, and firms are taking on projects in the wider society to alleviate poverty. They do this not because business caused these problems, but rather because as thinking and feeling human beings, they realize that their organizations might have the managerial talent and resources to act where governments are unable or unwilling to do so. These leaders have a sense of being called upon to seek the common good, to make a difference, to make the world a better place for their having been there.
Interestingly the response described above is precisely what happened to Ramla Akhtar when she described her experience of teaching about a people-centered model of business in Pakistan.
WHY DO WE DO BUSINESS? Money. The singular curse of those aspiring to about finding and creating opportunities, succeed in the world of business. The most about making oneself and one’s community hated-loved thing of all. Yet most business richer. But to my horror, the class broke in a graduates and common people would say: we chorus: “For money!” do business for money. My heart sank. Didn’t they know where the At the end of a semester that I taught on chasers of money end up?
The year after I discovered Ramla I would hear the term people-centered in the context of economics again when Pope Benedict delivered Caritas in Veritate, calling for an ethics which are people-centered.
45. 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.
47. 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.
Earlier in 2009 a Catholic priest Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, the President of the United Nations General Assembly had offered this in a speech:
“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.”
In 1999 a chance online conversation about Dickens ' Ignorance and Want allegory had put me in contact with an economic activist who was at the time working in Russia on what I would later come to know and be part of as People-Centered Economic Development
In 1996 he'd delivered a paper on this as an alternative to traditional capitalism to the US President Bill Clinton.It challenged the assumption of shareholder primacy, suggesting a business model with a primary social objective, Through Clinton's office People-Centered Economic Development would source the Tomsk regional initiative which helped around 10,000 people create micro businesses through a community development back based on a moral collateral lending model.
His 1996 paper was shared online and began:
At first glance, it might seem redundant to emphasize people as the central focus of economics. After all, isn't the purpose of economics, as well as business, people? Aren't people automatically the central focus of business and economic activities? Yes and no.
People certainly gain and benefit, but the rub is: which people? More than a billion children, women, and men on this planet suffer from hunger. It is a travesty that this is the case, a blight upon us all as a global social group. Perhaps an even greater travesty is that it does not have to be this way; the problems of human suffering on such a massive scale are not unsolvable. If a few businesses were conducted only slightly differently, much of the misery and suffering as we now know it could be eliminated. This is where the concept of a "people-centered" economics system comes in.
In that it is a fundamental predicate of "people-centered" economic development that no person is disposable, it follows that close attention be paid to those in the waning Industrial Age who are not equipped and prepared to take active and productive roles in an Information Age. Many, in fact, are scared, angry, and deeply resentful that they are being left out, ignored, effectively disenfranchised, discarded, thrown away as human flotsam in the name of human and social progress. We have only to ask ourselves individually whether or not this is the sort of progress we want, where we accept consciously and intentionally that human progress allows for disposing of other human beings.
He reflected 5 years later in a proposal for Crimea's Tatars.
"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."
In 2008 to Joe Biden and Barack Obama at the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, calling on their assistance for a 'Marshall Plan' strategy for Ukraine
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?
It was and still is a fundamental predicate of people-centered economics that no person is disposable and the cause of children abandoned to perish in state care became the focus of people-centered economic development in 2006. Founder Terry Hallman died putting the welfare of these children ahead of his own. In his own words:
Allowing that some people do not matter, as things are turning out, allows that other people do not matter and those cracks are widening to swallow up more and more people. Social enterprise is the first concerted effort in the Information Age to at least attempt to rectify that problem, if only because letting it get worse and worse threatens more and more of us. Growing numbers of people are coming to understand that “them” might equal “me.” Call it compassion, or call it enlightened and increasingly impassioned self-interest. Either way, we are all in this together, and we will each have to decide for ourselves what it means to ignore someone to death, or not.
As Pope Francis says No to An Economy of Exclusion
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”.
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.
As the 'Marshall Plan' for Ukraine put 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. '
"Focus of this plan is on the microeconomic sector because this is the most effective way to immediately meet the fundamental objectives of a Marshall Plan: policy directed against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos. Tools, innovations and methodologies are available today that were not available sixty years ago for tightly-focused microeconomic development aimed specifically and very effectively at target objectives. This is not to diminish nor detract from macroeconomic factors that continue to impede Ukraine's development. Those factors include such things as tax reform, energy policy, continued reduction of systemic corruption, Constitutional reform, and fostering further development of civil society and freedom of media.
The most urgent component of the project below is relief and modern medical treatment for tens of thousands of Ukraine's children diagnosed as psychoneurologically handicapped. Many have died in state care, in primitive and inhumane conditions. Many are misdiagnosed, and end up in atrocious conditions. Following intense publicity and public discussion of the issue during final preparation of this project, Ukraine's government agreed on 5 March, 2007 to open more than 400 new treatment facilities for these children all over Ukraine. That commitment from Ukraine’s government was a major step forward, clearly demonstrating Ukraine’s willingness and ability to take initiative in childcare reform first and foremost."
The "Death Camps for Children" article had described the facility at Torez.