Who is Holding on to
The American Socioeconomic Pyramid and Why it is Imploding America"
Since the 1960s, the negative narratives created about business, economics, and capitalism, have caused battle lines to be drawn between leaders of industry, and the NGO and Federal Government, and more latterly the Changemaker and “Savior”, spaces. Those championing a systemic change to the financial ecosystem that was created in 1944 at Bretton Woods have valid reasons to do so, but there is a palpable mental block when those same champions are challenged with the fact that systemic, by inference, means changing the way we approach change itself.
For the past 30-years I have listened to a narrative that business, economics, and capitalism are the cause of America’s socioeconomic and environmental problems. I have sat through countless meetings, conferences, and seminars listening to NGO Executives, Changemakers, “Saviors”, and Federal Politicians, malign and demonize business leaders and the residents of the top of America’s socioeconomic pyramid. These presentations and speeches are almost always accompanied by the creation of memes designed to paint unfair descriptions of the mindset of those residing at the bottom of America’s socioeconomic pyramid. The closing sentiments at such gatherings are the self-proclamations from the presenters and speakers that they are the most important people in the sustainable America room, i.e., only they have the solutions.
In his 1889 essay “Wealth”, Andrew Carnegie wrote:
“The problem of our age is the proper administration of wealth, so that the ties of brotherhood may still bind together the rich and poor in harmonious relationship”
Unfortunately, Carnegie’s desire to see harmonious relationships between the rich and poor could not be further from today’s reality, as there is no direct line of sight or contact between the residents of the top and the bottom of America’s socioeconomic pyramid. Accordingly, residents of each segment must rely on the narratives that are created by, and delivered through, the residents of specific sections of the middle of our nation’s socioeconomic pyramid.
As a student of history, it is not lost on me that when the wealth, income, asset, and cultural gaps between the haves and the have nots become insurmountable, civil unrest is often the result. Lest we forget the French and Russian Revolutions, and of course the Thirteen Colony Revolt that created the United States. As a father of three children in their twenties, I have grave concerns for their future, and hence I chose to write this book to not only correct the false narratives responsible for widening the current gaps, but to also shine an intense spotlight on the real problems that have been hiding in plain sight for decades.
Even given the above, this book is certainly not all doom and gloom because people are now recognizing that modern business leaders are some of the most important people in the sustainable America room (chapter 6-iiib), and that edited forms of business, economics, and capitalism are the solutions, not the problems. Combine this with the fact that many global leaders of industry have found unison with “Making A Profit While Making A Difference”, and it is clear to see that the answers to our problems are materializing and are within our reach. As my dear friend Lawrence Bloom would so eloquently state, “breakdowns allow for break throughs”.
There is no doubt that there are businesses which knowingly make their money at the expense of segments of humanity and or the environment, however, in opposition to what the NGO, Changemaker, “Savior”, and certain Federal Government sectors will have you believe, they are in the minority. Most business leaders care deeply about the communities within which they live and work, and donate copious amounts of time, intellectual capital, and money to help solve the socioeconomic and environmental problems they care about. This is an inconvenient truth for those who created and perpetuated the narrative that business, economics, and capitalism are the problems, and that the leaders of NGO, Changemaker, “Savior”, and Federal Government initiatives are the solutions. I would much rather have a cure, than continually adopt palliative care.
As we begin to shine a spotlight on the chokepoints that for decades have been hiding in plain sight, numerous business leaders, donors, and investors have begun posing an important question to the NGO, Changemaker, “Savior” and Federal Government segments. The question is, that if they are the solution, why is it that most of the socioeconomic and environmental problems we have faced for the past 100-years are getting worse? The standard answers revolve around a lack of capital, a lack of human assets, bad policy from the opposing party, centralized decision making, a need for systemic change, systems that only work for those that created them, and of course, big bad business, economics, and capitalism. In short, finger pointing to issues outside of their own ecosystems. To be fair, there is some merit in all the criticisms, but not enough to sustain the premise that they are the catalysts for everything that is broken. Therefore, and for the first time in any meaningful manner, people have started to pull back the curtain to see exactly why the current narratives were created, by whom, how realistic they are, and who benefits from them.
At the dawn of the 20th Century, John D. Rockefeller showcased a move from meeting immediate needs via charity to addressing the underlying “root causes” of social problems by using “scientific philanthropy”. Today, the root cause of our socioeconomic and environmental problems is not business, economics, or capitalism, but a lack of access to them for far too many Americans’ living in marginalized or disenfranchised communities in our country. As you will read, the residents at the top of our nation’s socioeconomic pyramid contribute a great deal, and the residents at the bottom are innovative, industrious, and desperate to contribute to achieving their own American Dream. Therefore, unlocking the choke points preventing these two residential segments from directly working together, and thus changing the shape of the pyramid itself, becomes an imperative if America is to become sustainable.
I wish to impress upon those poised to read this book that +/- 50% of the NGOs in this country must be supported as they do incredibly important work that has real impact. What I can’t impress, is that all NGOs are doing incredible work and stewarding the capital they receive in the most prudent manner possible. This is because, after almost 20-years of research, I have concluded that the NGO “industry” must be consolidated, with the surviving organizations receiving the capital that the terminated organizations once received. Even then, those that remain must migrate from the mentality of transact to transform, and from compete to collaborate. As for the modern Changemaker, and even worse the “Savior” segments, my experience is that the majority are a complete waste of time and resources, as their preferred solution is to create self-referential echo chambers within which they can self-aggrandize their own importance. As for the Federal Government, both national parties are totally useless.
When we combine the +/- 50% of the NGOs that have little or no impact with the majority of the Changemaker, “Savior”, and Federal Government initiatives that are useless, we create what is one of the most inefficient and ineffective “industries” in America today. Just imagine the increased impact that could be created if time, capital, and other resources currently donated to those creating no positive impact, was redirected to those creating remarkable positive impact.
We do need to edit business, economics, and capitalism because in their edited forms they are the solutions. It is people’s lack of access to them that needs to be fixed, and the solution to that is to unlock the chokepoints preventing the efficient and effective flow of financial and intellectual capital from the top to the bottom, and the equally efficient and effective flow of innovations from the bottom to the top.
Sit back and find out why community leaders within many marginalized and disenfranchised segments of our nation state that large parts of the NGO, Changemaker, “Savior” and Federal Government sectors are, “Pimping Our Poverty”.