A Different Perspective
Updating the Social Contract
Feed a person once, it elicits appreciation.
Feed him twice, it creates anticipation.
Feed him three times, it creates expectation.
Feed him four times, it becomes an entitlement.
Feed him five times, it produces dependency.
Robert D. Lupton Charity Detox
I read this book over the weekend. Although it primarily deals with the failure of our current “charity” models in the United States and around the world, I found application for it elsewhere.
Lupton talk about social entrepreneurs in the book, people who believe that while profitable enterprise is necessary, profit that elevates the community is much more valuable than profit that only benefits a few stakeholders.
I consider myself a social entrepreneur. I remember coming across the concept a few years back reading articles published by thinkers like Michael Porter, Nilofer Merchant and others.
I find Lupton’s writing especially poignant and current because of the situation in my hometown. We have a serious issue with codependency.
For decades, the economy was largely based on the extraction industries, timber and aggregates. A combination of technology, reduced demand, and environmental restrictions reduced that footprint significantly and in many ways the local economy has never really recovered from it.
During the Clinton Administration, the Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act was passed providing what was intended to be temporary relief while the economy transitioned to other industries.
It was intended kind of like spousal maintenance in a divorce, a temporary subsidy while the community transitioned. It was initially planned for six (6) years, but has been extended several times. We didn’t get the message and really haven’t done a good job of transitioning.
All though we have a great location, and a world class university, the biggest employers in our community are governmental agencies and not for profits. Not a good long-term model.
Lupton argues, and I agree, that only a strong for profit based economy fuels stable healthy communities. He argues for what he calls holistic community development. That model measures return on investment not only in financial return to shareholders. You ask questions like:
· Is the community coming together?
· Is healthy leadership emergi