Rabbi Lerner’s Marshall Plan

Jeff Mowatt
6 min readOct 20, 2019

In November 2008 The Catholic Reporter described it.

The plan, which Lerner created, has been introduced into Congress, and it will be re-introduced next year. Written by Lerner, and co-introduced by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), a Muslim, and co-sponsored by Rep. James P. Moran (D-VA), a Catholic, the plan has a total of 20 backers in the House.

The Global Marshall Plan would “replace our current strategy of homeland security, which is a strategy of domination and control, with a strategy of generosity and caring for others, based on our notion that you’re more likely to achieve security for the United States through generosity and caring for other people around the world then through dominating them,”

In February 2007, another ‘Marshall Plan’ was in the hands of Ukraine’s government and argued the case for business using profit to resolve a broad range of social problems It was published online in August.

Calling for support from US government with a 1.5 billion dollar investment fund for social enterprise. It weighed the cost against ongoing war in Iraq:

It is proposed that the United States of America be actively engaged in supporting this project, financially and any other way possible. Ukraine has clearly demonstrated common will for democracy. Ukraine has also unilaterally taken the first critical step to fulfill this program, thus clearly demonstrating initiative and commitment to participation required in the original Marshall Plan sixty years ago. The US side is presumably attempting to foster democracy in another country, which never expressed much interest and shows little real interest now. That of course is Iraq, where recent estimates indicate a cost of $1.5 billion per week.

That same amount of money, spread over five years instead of one week, would more than cover the investment cost of the initial components of this project, and allow a reserve fund for creating new projects as Ukraine’s intelligentsia invents them in the Center for Social Enterprise. It is proposed that Ukraine and the US provide equal portions of this amount. Ukraine is certainly able to provide that level of funding, given that projects are designed with the same fiscal discipline employed in the traditional business sector. That means they pay for themselves, one way or another.

In 1996, serving Bill Clinton as a volunteer on his re-election committee he’d delivered a position paper on the purpose of business, which began:

At first glance, it might seem redundant to emphasize people as the central focus of economics. After all, isn’t the purpose of economics, as well as business, people? Aren’t people automatically the central focus of business and economic activities? Yes and no.

People certainly gain and benefit, but the rub is: which people? More than a billion children, women, and men on this planet suffer from hunger. It is a travesty that this is the case, a blight upon us all as a global social group. Perhaps an even greater travesty is that it does not have to be this way; the problems of human suffering on such a massive scale are not unsolvable. If a few businesses were conducted only slightly differently, much of the misery and suffering as we now know it could be eliminated. This is where the concept of a “people-centered” economics system comes in.

Following up on the Marshall Plan in February 2008, Hallman calls on USAID and the Senate FRC, where Biden and Obama are members.

What Ms. Fore is describing has been central to P-CED’s main message, advocacy and activity for a decade. That, and helping establish an alternative form of capitalism, where profits and/or aid money are put to use in investment vehicles with the singular purpose of helping the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. The paper on which that is based is in Clinton’s library, dated September 16, 1996, author yours’ truly. That is reflected in P-CED’s home page and history section. In fact, you might notice a number of ideas and writings there that have now made their way into the mainstream of economics and aid thinking, how to make business and aid work smarter and more effectively in relieving poverty and the misery and risks that result. Bill Gates — as hard-edged a capitalist as has ever existed — reiterated the same things in Wall Street Journal a couple of weeks ago (ref below.) It sounds as though Ms. Fore’s remarks very much reflect this sort of thinking. Now it’s time to move forward and get it done.

Later that year as President |Elect , Obama described plans a social enterprise development agency and a 3.5 billion dollar social innovation fund (SIF) , paid for by closing tax loopholes and ending the war in Iraq.

Bill Gates , who’d argued that profits could be used to serve public welfare , was back at Davos in 2009 alongside Richard Branson, Muhammad Yunus, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, to discuss creating more effective social programs in Ukraine. Branson was re-iterating what the ‘Marshall Plan’ argued about business resolving social problems.

The Catholic church came on board in 2009 with the encyclical Caritas in Veritate, saying:

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. “

The strengthening of different types of businesses, especially those capable of viewing profit as a means for achieving the goal of a more humane market and society, must also be pursued in those countries that are excluded or marginalized from the influential circles of the global economy. In these countries it is very important to move ahead with projects based on subsidiarity, suitably planned and managed, aimed at affirming rights yet also providing for the assumption of corresponding responsibilities. In development programmes, the principle of the centrality of the human person, as the subject primarily responsible for development, must be preserved. The principal concern must be to improve the actual living conditions of the people in a given region, thus enabling them to carry out those duties which their poverty does not presently allow them to fulfil.

The UN General Assembly were on the same page. Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, the President of the United Nations General Assembly spoke in 2009:

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.

In 2013, I didn’t know about Rabbi Lerner when I wrote about The ‘New Bottom Line’ for Mckinsey’s Long Term Capitalism challenge. I’d used the experiession because founder Terry Hallman frequently wrote of taking the bottom line past profit , to people.

I discovered that Rabbi Lerner had also written about the ‘New Bottom Line’.

A New Bottom Line is one that judges the success of every sector, system and institution of our society (economy, government, schools, health care, the legal system) based not on the old bottom line of whether they maximize money, profit and power, but instead by the extent to which they maximize love and caring, kindness and generosity, empathy and compassion, social, economic and environmental justice, peace and nonviolence, and protection of the life support system of our planet, as well as encourage us to transcend a narrow utilitarian approach to nature and other human beings and enhance our capacity to respond with awe and wonder to the universe and to see the sacred in others and in all sentient beings.

In 2011, Terry Hallman’s death was reported by a Maidan leader, who wrote of his vision for Ukraine’s orphaned children, quoting from his 2008 appeal to US government.

The author of breakthru report “Death camps for children” Terry Hallman suddenly died of grave disease on Aug 18 2011. On his death bed he was speaking only of his mission — rescuing of these unlucky kids. His dream was to get them new homes filled with care and love. His quest would be continued as he wished.



Jeff Mowatt

Putting people above profit, a profit-for-purpose business #socent #poverty #compassion #peoplecentered #humaneconomy