Common Purpose: Basis for Social Contract
By Reginald D. Maisonneuve
The measure of a society’s success is not gross domestic product (GDP) or the level of its stock indices. It is in the fulfillment of its peoples potential as individuals and collectively as families, communities and as a nation. Sadly, we don’t measure how effectively society nurtures, liberates and achieves it. We can and should.
Poverty, crime, incarceration rates, homelessness, drop-out rates, the incidence of disease, un and under-employment, pollution levels, economic and educational inequality are among measures of a society’s falling short of its potential and failing its people. They are not the failure of a people, they are a failure of society.
The role that business and government play in fulfilling or suppressing our society’s potential says what kind of society we have.
If we accept the obvious, that business and government are also made of people and that their purpose is to create value and further a civil and productive society, it would seem that we should all be driving to the same end.
If we further accept that we are all entrepreneurs working to put our own abilities and capital to productive use, pro-business also becomes pro-people and promotes the core values of investing in ourselves and citizenry through education, infrastructure, healthcare and through the creation of rich opportunities to productively apply ourselves.
Unfortunately, as a society, we too often pit one against the other.
Our political parties define themselves as conservative (pro-business), liberal (pro-government) or libertarian (anti-government). In the final analysis, these are false distinctions that set us apart. What they really mean is what group of people is being favored. Can this possibly work to achieve a result that serves us all?
Being from Haiti and having lived and worked in Venezuela, I have seen societies full of extraordinary potential rip themselves apart pitting one segment of society against another. When government and business advance the interests of a few at the expense of the many, or the many at the expense of the few, the results won’t be favorable.
If we are successful in realizing common purpose and a social contract that advances us all, the Gross Domestic Product, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and those more important measures of a society’s success will achieve levels that we can all celebrate.
We are all entrepreneurs working to achieve our potential through our individual human capital, through our own slice of genius coupled to the passions that drive us; so, we have to invest in ourselves by building knowledge, by clearing away our weaknesses, by being engaged.
In the end, economic performance and individual responsibility in being a productive member of society is critical to our success as a country; so, we all have a part to play.
But we can’t do it alone. It takes a village.
Reginald D. Maisonneuve is the Founder and President, of Edea ,Transforming companies and organizations into market-led, financially driven enterprises through the effective integration of people-process and technology. He holds advanced degrees in business (MBA – Univ. of VA “Darden Graduate School of Business Administration) and engineering (MS. Elec. Eng. McGill Univ.)