Coming home from the store, I heard this story on Muhammad Yunus. You may remember him as one of the Nobel prize winners in economics for his work on "micro-lending" where instead of having to borrow large sums, poor people had access to small amounts that they could use to build a small business or do something to help their impoverished state. It reminds me of what Heifer International does with small amounts of money--helping a poor family get a goat or something that could provide subsistence and possibly some extra income or barter. Yunus' new project is what he calls "social businesses;" a concept I am not completely sure of yet. It sounds much like a non-profit except it is a business.
I am a bit tired tonight and coming off of a horrible sinus headache, so I will be brief. But his idea hits me close to home. I have always struggled with the harsh amorality of capitalism, as well as the insatiable way that it demands more and more. Especially once you get into investment capital, a business that only succeeds but does not grow--eventually doesn't even succeed. The investors demand more for their money. That has always bothered me. That and the sense that profit knows not, nor cares how, that profit was made.
Yunus seems to be getting to some idea of adding a morality back into the economic equation. And that strikes me as something worth talking about. Why does the environmental cost of a product not show up in its price? Why does a company benefit from cutting labor costs? What if a company had as one of its goals--along with profit--the sustainable employment of certain numbers of people?
Perhaps this is naive. But it strikes me that in a world where CEOs made 364 times the average worker last year, that something needs to change.
Ok. Off to bed and something for the head.