Our social and economic needs can only be addressed by affected communities
A new community of wealthy individuals now identifying themselves as “social innovators” have decided to be the saviors of America. Many are looking for meaning in their lives or a challenge after making millions of dollars or more through start-up tech companies or hedge funds. Their heroes are Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.
Privatization has also taken on the role of America’s savior moving in to communities and countries after catastrophic events or circumstances. One of the best known examples is New Orleans after Katrina. Before the devastating hurricane, New Orleans was 70% Black and 30% White. Today, it is 70% White and 30% Black and Latino. Most low income families could not afford to return to their homes.
What is wrong with the wealthy and the politically influential 1% as the saviors of America? The definition of social innovation is the development of new ideas and strategies that can address social needs from working conditions to education to health and other areas in our communities and country. Should we really care who finds solutions to these issues?
Yes! The forces which reshaped New Orleans created a new community in their own image. If we allow only the 1% to lead us out of the abyss, they will be the only face of America and economic inequality will continue to grow.
If added value in our economy is partially measured by the creation of jobs, let’s look at Google and Home Depot. Google has $74 billion in assets and 23,714 employees. Interns make $6,000 a month, all professionals! Home Depot with $41 billion in assets has 340,000 employees and a diversity of working class and professional employment opportunities. But, it is Google who has positioned itself as a new savior.
Now, all of this has been moving in this direction for some time. In the 1987 film “Wall Street” Michael Douglas playing the fictional business character Gordon Gecho says, “I create nothing. I own. We make the rules. The news, war, peace, famine, upheaval, the price per paper clip… Money isn’t lost or made it’s simply transferred from one perception to another.”
In the 1950s and 1960s and earlier, companies were often run by people who had been part of the development of the product, engineers and inventors and those who worked their way up. Today, most companies are run by lawyers and accountants and money managers. They are focused on short term profits and not long term sustainability. They care little about job creation. Decades ago when a company had to layoff large numbers of employees, their stock plummeted. Today, downsizing often results in the increase in the value of a company’s stock.
We need to be the saviors of America! A new populist movement is called for that focuses on creating economic democracy by challenging economic inequality. We must fight for job creation and job training and an educational system that believes it can work for all children.
It’s time to reclaim America starting with small steps in our communities. This is not about being against government or the private sector. It is about accountability and balance. It’s about fighting for resources for our schools. It’s about building mixed income communities and protecting our environment.
What are the issues impacting your family and neighborhood? Do you know others who share those concerns? Invite them over to your house for a conversation. This is a call to action and there is nothing less at stake than the future of our families and communities and country. “The first revolution is internal,” Ghandi said. It all begins with you and me.