What’s the Next Ism?

1. Action; process; practice: terrorism.
2. Characteristic behavior or quality: heroism.
3. a. State; condition; quality: pauperism.
b. State or condition resulting from an excess of something specified: strychninism.
4. Distinctive or characteristic trait: Latinism.
5. a. Doctrine; theory; system of principles: pacifism.
b. An attitude of prejudice against a given group: racism.

*Source The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Or, I think a better way of stating it:

“The world grew light-headed, and forth came a spawn of isms which no man can number. –S. G. Goodrich.”

However, getting back to all these ism’s, I think the definition to focus on is ism as a doctrine, theory or system of principles. Note that word ‘theory’ in the midst of all of that, which in science means that you haven’t proved that an idea definitely describes something completely yet, although it certainly is a good contender for the top place. So, now lets take a look at the definition for capital:

1. a. A town or city that is the official seat of government in a political entity, such as a state or nation.
b. A city that is the center of a specific activity or industry: the financial capital of the world.
2. a. Wealth in the form of money or property, used or accumulated in a business by a person, partnership, or corporation.
b. Material wealth used or available for use in the production of more wealth.
c. Human resources considered in terms of their contributions to an economy: “[The] swift unveiling of his… plans provoked a flight of human capital” (George F. Will).
3. Accounting. The remaining assets of a business after all liabilities have been deducted; net worth.
4. Capital stock.
5. Capitalists considered as a group or class.
6. An asset or advantage: “profited from political capital accumulated by others” (Michael Mandelbaum).
7. A capital letter.

Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

In particular, look at 2.c, “Human resources considered in terms of their contributions to an economy”. Hey, you think that means you and me, maybe? Nah, what could a human resource possibly contribute to “Material wealth used or available for use in the production of more wealth”. Oh wait, without those human resources, the material wealth doesn’t get created, does it? Hmm, think maybe that’s important?

I think so and I think the problem lies very much in the wording used, “Human resources”, i.e. people, men, women, children, blacks, whites, red, yellow, indigo with spots, you know, those “human resources” we interact with each and every day. But if you call everyone a ‘resource’, than, that person becomes just another piece of a machine that is used to build wealth for some other human resource that has a better handle on running the wealth machine.

Now, do I think that we should have a totally equally distribution of wealth or some force re-accounting of wealth in order to make sure people are treated ‘equally’? Nope, that’s the furthest thing from my mind. (Hey, I want to win the lottery, too you know) However, I do think that we should realize that there are people that are affected by the decisions being made by companies and that our community as a whole can be no better off than the person who has the least in the community. Each company should have a responsibility towards the community or communities it is a part of and in fact become another true citizen of our society. We are already part way there, in that corporations are considered a person in the eyes of a law, but the law does not go far enough.

The way the laws are written now, they are designed to protect the individuals driving the corporation and not requiring enough responsibility of the corporation towards the community it resides in. Imagine if you or I decided to start accepting motor oil and dumping it in our backyard or if you or I decided to running a business that paid below minimium wage or no wages, well, I don’t think we’d get very far for very long before we would be found out and charged with breaking laws of the community. However, when you become a corporation of a sufficient size, doing things like dumping extra garbage or not complying with community standards that individuals must comply with is okay, because the business is adding jobs and helping the economic ‘health’ of the community.

My opinion is that this isn’t enough anymore, businesses must take responsiblity and become members of the community which is affected by their behavior. The key is responsiblity once a business has decided to do business in a community. Some businesses do help out by contributing to charities and making sure they pay their fair share of taxes to keep the community completely healthy, not just for them with plenty of workers who are inexpensive, but for all people who reside there. Unfortunately, these communities and businesses are too much the exception and there are too many businesses that take advantage of communities. And when there is no more capital that can be extracted out, often times the businesses will leave to go to another area, leaving behind a town left with mess to clean up.

As usual, I have no idea on how to implement such an idea and I would be reluctant to just go in and try an idea without testing it out. But something has got to work better so that a stable environment can be built that encourages growth of everyone within a community.