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Making innovation work for good. T:@inspirechilli

Monday 3 June 2013

Fair Wealth and the 40p buccaneers

I first wrote about the theory of Fair Wealth as part of my blog on the Secret Millions series. Its basic premise was to take an advantaged thinking approach to the limitations found in the unravelling safety net of the welfare state. Instead of following the political arguments about how much welfare anyone deserves, I suggested we should be looking to construct a different policy environment where our purpose is to ensure that, wherever possible, a state handout serves as the first step towards a state handup. In other words, the function of ‘fair wealth for welfare’ is to find the best, smartest means of investing positively in someone’s current and future development.  Fair Wealth’s aspiration is that each individual can contribute to the growth of our society as an active agent and asset rather than a passive recipient and deficit.  

From welfare, to the job centre, to the homeless charity, our society has become ever dependent on outdated deficit-based institutions of disadvantage.  We talk the language of social enterprise, yet we are quite happy to put 40p in a bucket without applying our minds to eradicating its need. We lecture the world on the economics of sustainable aid, whilst at home we invest millions of tax payer’s money in work programmes and support contracts that apply methodologies which have produced no evidence of lasting impact.  We are not using our wealth fairly in any sense of the word.

As the welfare state dies around us, we can choose to turn our attention to what vision and values we expect a 21st century society to express for those people who need investments in their lives. Surely, in a world of diminishing resources, it is imperative for everyone to achieve their potential, however that is individually defined through different stages of our existence.  We cannot afford just to support people to cope within fixed stereotype of needs, and then argue over the size of the handouts allowed. We deserve a different state of being, with a positive sense of what wealth can achieve, the knowledge of how to harness that wealth in each person, and the logic to measure and learn from what its investments can build for the long term benefit of all.

We have none of these things at present.  Our current leaders lack the imagination to create a viable alternative. For the pioneers among us, this is an opportunity to develop an alliance of radical minds with similar values to explore a series of pathway questions:

1.       What fair investments are there for someone to build the asset base required to function in an independent, sustainable way, instead of just surviving and coping through support?

2.       How far is our social wealth really defined in terms of community wellbeing, social value, and the future impact of current social investments?

3.       Are all people in our society being recognised and promoted in terms of their investment potential and opportunity?

4.       What deal is in place for an individual or organisation to invest back any personal assets, developed through social investment, into the growth of social value and community wellbeing?

5.       To what an extent does an individual recipient have any control over how social investment is spent, and how its impact is measured and valued?

Fair wealth can only be given away once it has been generated.  It can’t be handed out from nothing, or bankrolled to nobody. To grow the concept of Fair Wealth beyond these questions requires a space for social conversation, and a process for social action.  Above all else, it needs organisations and individuals willing to create wealth together in order to invest it differently in our future.  If  it was a group, I would call it the 40p buccaneers...

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