---- Rethinking where we want to go ...
Last week's guest editorial by Reuel S. Amdur (The Social Economy: A Brave New World?) was a reminder of the value of the social economy. Self-financed co-operatives, non-profits, charitable organizations, volunteerism in general, far from being set aside or forgotten, still hold a place of honour in our society. Though we may be less churched, we remain influenced by the teachings of the world's great religions to the effect that we have a moral obligation to care for others especially those who, for a multiplicity of valid reasons, need help.
There was a time when the social economy was prominent. Then intervened a school of thought that maintained it was demeaning for those who were the benefactors of the social economy to be in that position. Simply as members of society, it argued, they were entitled to what they were receiving from the social economy; they should not have to demean themselves by asking; they had a right and society had an obligation to provide.
The obvious vehicle to bring all this about was to be government and its bureaucracy. No need here to point to an underlying agenda. Big government would restore to these people a dignity they had never lost, except in the eyes of others with an unwarranted faith in the efficiency of large impersonal bureaucracies and a nose for garnering votes. That it has not worked out as well as planned is painfully noticeable. There is still a crying need for more volunteerism. But hearts have been hardened. Don't I pay taxes for those needs to be addressed? Yes, you do, but ......
Could a larger social economy bring about a Brave New World? Certainly. But, it would be quite unlike the one depicted in Aldous Huxley's 1932 novel which was one of great suffering and widespread injustice. We definitely need a Brave New World, but one based on a philosophy of brotherhood, respect for the individual, private property, hard work, and achievement. We've become possessed by our possessions and have lost some of our sense of values. We need to rethink where we want to go and how to get there.