I put up a LinkedIn Question recently:
What do you think "wealth" is? Do you think we make decisions based on what makes us and our community wealthy? How do you see this changing in the future?
I did this specifically to see what the community-at-large is beginning to think about the concept. SocialEdge invited me to continue the conversation in their forum.
As the community at SocialEdge is quite sophisticated in the topic, I wanted to post excerpts here. I urge anyone who is interested to read the expanded versions -- these are tiny excerpts -- of these very thoughtful posts, and contribute to the topic. Also, on LinkedIn I've just recently initiated a group Future of Wealth.
Greg Bear puts in some great high-level perspective and context but also has this important point on the purely practical and personal level:
As I get to know my local community of social entrepreneurs better, I have the same discussion over and over again, and it centers on questions of "how do I contribute to the collective and still feed, shelter and clothe my family?," or "how do I drop my single-bottom-line clients in favor of triple-bottom-line-only projects?"
What I feel we are looking for is a new assumption to base the systems of our society. The last generations revolved around the notion that increasing wealth was the key to improving life and that production was the means of wealth creation.
Production based wealth creation has bumped us up against the limits of our ecosystem and the resulting distributions of wealth emerging from these systems are increasingly intolerable and destabilizing.
If wealth means anything, it should be the case that having greater wealth means having more opportunities or choices available than having less wealth. ... meaningful choices, such as opportunities for education, civic participation, health care, recreation. Opportunities to purchase land or tools, produce goods, and bring them to market.
When we create a new option or opportunity for someone else, we generate wealth. To me, that's why innovation plays such an important part in the betterment of society and why we need better ways of seeing, understanding, and supporting innovation in social services.
Paul Lamb mentions the new social credit card idea: A Better Way Out of Debt, Christian Science Monitor, July 16 2009.
David Blair points to "The Economics of Happiness" by Canadian Economist Mark Anielski.
Randy Roberson of:
I have always found it interesting that some of the happiest and wisest people I have ever met live in little grass huts in deplorable poverty....Most of these people live in areas where death and suffering is an ever present daily reality. Likewise the simple things in life, like food, water, shelter and family, are of the utmost concern. As such these people respect and appreciate the gift that "IS" today. For none of us know with any certainty how many tomorrows we will have. ... true wealth is the things no money can buy. It is loved ones. It is friends that are there for you. It is helping others in their time of need. It is going to sleep at night knowing you have done what is right and having a clear conscience.
Reinaldo Pamponet shares
Jo Davidson adds: "abundance is the natural state of the universe, and wealth is this abundance in all areas."
Michael Hurwitz ties it back to a Democratic ideal, and adds the perspective showing how some people with financial capital are NOT wealthy:
On the other end, when you look at the amazingly rich you notice a difference between those who earned it themselves, and those who inherited it. I believe the term is "trust fund babies." If you remove the need to earn opportunities, then wealth becomes meaningless. This is how many of the "trust fund baby" crowd act, at least in their youth. Now a select few of them decide to become something great in their own right, and get back into the mode of earning their opportunity. These are the ones who seem to break the cycle, and often end up even wealthier than their parents.
....John Locke points out how essential it is for everyone to have access to certain things. Places where access is restricted are generally call poor. People who have seemingly limitless access to those things are called "super wealthy."
P. Ilangovan explains, "people are good at something or the other and so develop that particular skill or trade until the time the capital runs dry! So, who is to blame? In a sense we are to blame!... So, it's the culture - our own mindset -- that needs change."
Chris Miles: "The basic economic principle is that exchange creates wealth. In other words, the more we exchange with one another, the more wealth that is created (this works for money, relationships, health, intellectual gain, etc)."
Robin Pendoley of www.thinkingbeyondborders.org asks two questions and then discusses them. The questions: "I've really enjoyed the points that everyone has made thus far, and find myself nodding in agreement with virtually everything. This leads me to two questions: 1) How do all of these points relate to one another? 2) What do [they] mean in the real world?"
Anna Sidana points out the critical issue: I agree with many comments above but the fundamental problem I see is that we are completely dependent on money. If we don't have money, we die.
Ravi Arapurakal posts a thought-provoking essay which begins:
Jo Davidson responds and augments: A question would be, what would it take to re-value social capital inside the imbalances of the current system?
Our prevailing economic culture is divided. It expects producers to become more socially responsible, as though producers are the drivers of market change and wealth generation. Producers are not. The market is. In competitive markets, it is not the producer that drives change, it is the market. This is because wealth generation is determined by the value for which payment is made. And this value resides not in among the producers, but among prospects and customers, namely, the market.
Finally (so far), Shaun Lindberg urges us to act rather than talk, and reminds us:
Anyone who is able to participate in this discussion is wealthy ... relative to 90% of the world's population. And not just the money ... the ability to read and type, good eyesight or the means to afford glasses, dexterity, ideas, thoughts, vision.
It's great to hear from people just beginning to think about this idea as well as the old hats!