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Inclusive Capitalism: Whose side are Oxfam on?

Today as the second conference on Inclusive Capitalism comes to London, Mark Goldring of Oxfam makes the interesting assertion that people should replace profit as the "bottom line" in business

"We have somehow constructed a sphere of public debate where people are secondary to numbers; where the well-being of millions is too often secondary to the economic indicators.

Tackling inequality requires that people, not profit constitute the bottom line. We need everyone who is in a position of influence - business leaders, financiers, politicians, civil servants - to put the interests of ordinary citizens back at the heart of every decision he or she makes."

A couple of years ago, I posted an article on Mixmarket about the New Bottom Line. It begins with this question :

What do we mean by the statement: "P-CED takes the bottom line one step further: to people, past numbers" ?

Describing how this was actioned following delivery to President Bill Clinton as a position paper. It leads to our work on a Marshall Plan for  Ukraine and this declaration:

'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.'

This work is published under a Creative Commons licence and requires attribution to defend is social objectives. Commercial use is in voilation of the terms.

It was back in July 2008, that Oxfam told me they were unable to accept my offer of collaboration, I'd asked:

"It has long been our belief that business can work together with NGOs and government to eradicate poverty and I ask therefore, if there is any way in which by supplying yourselves, either in the capacity of our field experience in Russia and social enterprise in general, or as IT service providers helping us generate the revenue required to support our own efforts toward a common purpose in Eastern Europe."

This it seems is a classic example of reframing, such that what has been done becomes what should be done. aibrushing the practitioner out of the picture in favour of the eternal conference round.  Hardly something that can be described as inclusive/ Solutions are put on the table and they do their utmost to deny them.

It doesn't have a thing to do with Tory polcy wonk Steve Hilton, but a man who put his life on the line to make it happen with his own resources.

Last year following the first Inclusive Capitalism conference I published an open letter to the City of London's Lord Mayor, drawing attention to her derivative argument.

What so may seem to be missing is that "business for the common good" is under attack by the very predators who brought us to the financial crisis of 2008.

We have a perfect illustration in the 'Marshall Plan for Ukraine, with Lords Risby, Mandelson and Macdonald joining forces with the oligarch who controls gas supplies from Russia to Ukraine. It's not those in greatest need who will be their focus.

Inclusive Capitalism has quickly become a pantomime, in which all the cast are ugly sisters 

As the paper for Bill Clinton's re-election committee concluded:

'It is only when wealth begins to concentrate in the hands of a relative few at the expense of billions of others who are denied even a small share of finite wealth that trouble starts and physical, human suffering begins. It does not have to be this way. Massive greed and consequent massive human misery and suffering do not have to be accepted as a givens, unavoidable, intractable, irresolvable. Just changing the way business is done, if only by a few companies, can change the flow of wealth, ease and eliminate poverty, and leave us all with something better to worry about. Basic human needs such as food and shelter are fundamental human rights; there are more than enough resources available to go around--if we can just figure out how to share. It cannot be "Me first, mine first"; rather, "Me, too" is more the order of the day.'