Conscientious Capitalism - Sustainable engines for good

Date: 2023-01-04 | contumption | create | hamforgood |

Conscientious capitalism is an effective route for large, long-term impact. It is marked by two things:

  • Sustainable business model
  • Positive impact on the world

An entity with both has a comparable (but often greater) ability to produce impact on the world long-term than one with just one. This is because:

  • Impact requires money
  • Businesses are sustainable money systems
  • Sustainable systems play the long game

Impact requires money

Impact requires money where money is a representation of value. The main argument against this is that helping is free. That's true - the act of helping is free - but the resources required to sustain you as a human and give you the ability to be in that place with resources to spare to help was not free. Not in 2023.

At the very least - if you're like totally off grid - you had to spend time / effort to forage for your goods.

Whether what you gave was:

  • An hour of your time
  • A $5 bill
  • Extra stuff from your garage

There are implicit costs to even just living.

  • Food
  • Water
  • Shelter

Thus to even be in a position to help and then to actually give that help requires some expenditure of value. Since the most common representation of value for exchange is money, we'll say that impact requires money.

A formula for this is like:

  • money -> impact

Businesses are sustainable money systems

Businesses are sustainable money systems. Not sustainable necessarily in the good-for-the-planet kind of way. But sustainable in the sense that it at least attempts to stay alive long-term.

Businesses are literally built to get money and to change in order to keep getting money (preferably more money). So the idea that they're perpetual money engines shouldn't be too much of a leap.

A formula for this is like:

  • business -> money -> (business, money)

Sustainable systems play the long game

So so far we have an equation like:

  • money -> impact
  • business -> money -> (business, money)

So it seems like we can pipe them together like:

  • business -> money
    • business
    • money -> impact

It seems clear that if we can produce a business that can systemically produce money we now have a system that can also systemically produce impact.

This systematic approach is very important as this now allows us to play a long game. Instead of thinking in months / years with our focus split on our next external cash infusion, we can focus on the impact and plans for consistent progress in years / decades.

Take this in contrast to an organization that does not make money but instead just does direct impact work. That is great but it's not a sustainable system. It will need constant infusions just to stay alive.

In many ways Conscientious Capitalism is the "otherish" approach to capitalism, using terminology from Give and Take's ideas about being an effective, positive member of the workforce

Applying Conscientious Capitalism

Being coscientiously capitalist is not hard and there are really no reasons not to do so. If you find an org that is not:

  • Sustainable business model
  • Positive impact on the world

Probably don't invest / support them.

If you're creating your own - make sure it's sustainable, that it's positively affecting the world, and even consider earning to give. Your org does not necessarily need to be the one doing the direct work - it can simply be the one providing the consistent source of money. (This is what HamForGood attempts to do.)

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