It started with a paper questioning the purpose of business and a “why not”.
Isn’t the purpose of business to benefit people? So why not create a new form of business which uses its profit to benefit society at large rather than return it to the hands of a few?
It warned of the growing disparity in the Information Age which would leave large numbers of people disenfranchised.
“The Industrial Age is now giving way to the Information Revolution, which is giving rise to the Information Age. Understanding this, it is appropriate to be concerned with the impact this transition is having and will continue to have on the lives of all of us. 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.”
“Economics, and indeed human civilization, can only be measured and calibrated in terms of human beings. Everything in economics has to be adjusted for people, first, and abandoning the illusory numerical analyses that inevitably put numbers ahead of people, capitalism ahead of democracy, and degradation ahead of compassion. “
The position paper was delivered to the White House by a member of the steering group of the committee to re-elect the President.
Some years later, after deploying the concept in Russia and Crimea, founder Terry Hallman spoke of the paper when interviewed in London.
“The problem is that profit and money still tend to accumulate in the hands of comparatively few people. Money, symbolically representing wealth and ownership of material assets, is not an infinite resource. When it accumulates in enormous quantities in the hands of a few people, that means other people are going to be denied. If everyone in the world has enough to live a decent life and not in poverty, then there is no great problem with some people having far more than they need. But, that’s not the case, and there are no rules in the previous capitalist system to fix that. Profit and numbers have no conscience, and anything done in their name has been accepted as an unavoidable aspect of capitalism.
“I disagree. In 1996, I simply set up a hypothetical ‘what if’ proposition. What if some businesses decided to change their practices, or institute themselves as new enterprises completely, for the sole purpose of generating profits as usual and then using those profits to help people who have little or nothing? That’s the way to correct and improve classic capitalism for the broadest benefit worldwide. It’s now called social capitalism, or, social enterprise. I still call it the same as I did in 1996: people-centered economic development, and that remains the name of my organization and my web site.”
With A ‘Marshall Plan’ for Ukraine we’d set out the case for applying profit to resolve a broad range of social problems:
“Profits can be directly applied to help resolve a broad range of social problems: poverty relief, improving childcare, seeding scientific research for nationwide economic advancement, improving communications infrastructure and accessibility, for examples — the target objectives of this particular project plan. The same financial discipline required of any conventional for-profit business can be applied to projects with the primary aim of improving socioeconomic conditions. Profitability provides money needed to be self-sustaining for the purpose of achieving social and economic objectives such as benefit of a nation’s poorest, neediest people. In which case, the enterprise is a social enterprise. “
With his Caritas in Veritate, we’d hear this two years later from Pope Benedict.
“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.”
“This is not merely a matter of a “third sector”, but of a broad new composite reality embracing the private and public spheres, one which does not exclude profit, but instead considers it a means for achieving human and social ends. Whether such companies distribute dividends or not, whether their juridical structure corresponds to one or other of the established forms, becomes secondary in relation to their willingness to view profit as a means of achieving the goal of a more humane market and society. “
Next came the UN General Assembly:
“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.”
(Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, the President of the United Nations General Assembly speaking in 2009)
In 2013 Cooperatives Europe and Fair Trade International teamed up to promote people-centred business in supply chains.
Harriet Lamb, CEO of Fair Trade International, explained: “Businesses alone are not enough to tackle poverty; the EU should foster people-centred businesses. Cooperatives and Fair Trade have shown that they put high standards and strict rules on businesses, that they put people first, and still they are successful.”
A few days ago at the G20 Summit, South Korean President Moon Jae in pitched fora people-centered economy. The theme was ‘Putting People First’
“People come first” is my political slogan and longstanding philosophy. I am very pleased to see the G20 Summit adopting “Putting People First” as a core message.
‘The Republic of Korea achieved rapid growth that surprised the world, but it now shares the same concerns as the rest of the world. In the process of development, economic inequality and the socio-economic divide have worsened, and jobless growth has made unemployment a grave problem.
‘A countermeasure taken by my Administration is a people-centered economy.’
On December 10th a group of prominent web pioneers gathered to discuss the concept of a People-Centered Internet.
On December 10th, 2018, Constellation Research will host a historic event with several of the Internet pioneers as well as the next generation of positive #ChangeAgents. PCI is excited to join Constellation at this significant event which will be held in San Jose and also streamed online.
The focus will be on Our People-Centered Digital Future, specifically recognizing that by December 10th, 2018, more than 50% of the world will have access to the Internet just as the world also celebrates the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations.