One of the most embarrassing facts today is that every fourth European under 25 is unemployed, and this figure is set to rise. The blame-game is on-going — how did we get into this situation and who should take the responsibility for getting us out of it? This liberal-social EU, was it just a dream that never came true or are there ways in which it would be possible combine these both? In the end, the fact remains that status quo is not an option anymore; we need things to change and we need to change them fast.
Austerity measures — cutting public budget deficits by increasing taxes and making spending cuts — are taken for granted as a way out of the crisis. However, austerity plans have caused a worrying shift in social and health policy.
Social and health care sectors are the biggest spenders of public money and many services are now being outsourced and privatised in hope of creating savings. Unfortunately this has been a very short-sighted approach. The free market, endorsed by the current procurement and state aid rules of EU, in public service has meant that mainly big national and multi-national companies win public contracts by offering the cheapest contracts.
Over time, competition dies out leaving these large companies to put their contract prices up. Surely, it would be much better to invest this money in increasing the quality of the service, in well-being of the staff and creating added social value in the community instead of making overseas shareholders even wealthier? Instead of an instant move to marketised services it is first important to decide what it is that is needed from the services; what is the desired outcome of the service.
The delivery method should then be decided accordingly. Some services are clearly best to keep under public provision and some might actually benefit from free competition of bigger players, whereas some would produce the required wider outcomes through more innovative means of delivery. Public bodies should think how they might use public service contracts to improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of our communities and thus, provide long-term savings through sustainable growth.
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Market fundamentalism with its idea of creating freedom of choice, and citizens needs being served simply by supply and demand, is naive. It forgets about the consequences of market failure for communities and the structural issues that affect disadvantaged people e. Not everyone can have the freedom so eagerly promised under capitalism. Austerity plans should not be used as an excuse for absolving public responsibility for looking after the most vulnerable.
Much of the blame for the current crisis has been placed on the international finance sector.
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More widely there has been a reaction against corporate greed and a questioning of whether the interests of international capital are in conflict with those living ordinary lives across Europe. In addition to the call for better regulated markets there is an increasing interest in different business models that can balance monetary, social and environmental needs. Social enterprise or social business; which for the purpose of this article are used as synonyms; does not anymore operate in a niche market but is becoming more of a global movement. The definition of social enterprise is still being discussed all over the world.
They characteristically are businesses that are open and transparent in their actions and that often involve their different stakeholder groups in the ownership, governance and decision making structures. Social enterprise combines the best of two different worlds: it is a mixture of the dynamism, nimbleness and self-sufficiency of the private sector, and of the public and social economy sectors that are more value-based. To be able to do good in the society and in the world, social enterprise need to be viable business, but it does so with a conscience.
The social, and increasingly ecological, success of the business is measured, and hence, people, planet and profit are equally important.
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Social business is a concept, not a legal form. Its legal forms are diverse in different countries e. The term social enterprise may be new but the idea itself is not. It goes back in history to mutual and self-help practises and draws many values from the old co-operative sector. There are different ways or routes of getting into social business:. Many people are familiar with Fair Trade and ethical micro-finance services of the Grameen Bank as great examples of social enterprise but there are many more in sectors as diverse as energy, clean technology and recycling; health and care; banking and finance; utility services; and work integration social enterprises i.
Here are some European examples. If Europe is adamant that capitalism is still the way forward capitalism needs to change fundamentally. To compete with the big multi-nationals it is using new outcomes-based commissioning methods, co-operation structures like consortium and outside-market activities e. Over the years it has thrived and has demonstrated a sustainable form of economic development.
As the economic system under which you live, capitalism shapes the marketplaces that determine where you live and work, how much you are paid, what you can buy, what you can accumulate toward your retirement, and every other aspect of a society based on monetary exchanges for goods and services. In an era of increasing globalization, capitalism has dramatically strengthened its important role in—and its influence on—the world economy. It is the system under which a majority of the world's population lives, and it continues to strengthen the links of interdependence between the world's economies.
But capitalism's impact is about much more than money and markets. Indeed, capitalism is every bit as much a social force as an economic one. As such, its impact on noneconomic life has drawn the attention of thinkers outside of economics, as well as those inside the discipline, including some of its greatest minds. Muller of The Catholic University of America takes you deep inside the perspectives on this most important and pervasive force. Over 36 engaging lectures, you gain fresh insights that will strengthen your understanding of capitalism's rich history, its fascinating proponents and opponents, and its startling impact on our world.
Drawing on his exceptional ability to frame each thinker's concerns within its historical context, Professor Muller takes you beyond economic analysis to look at how some of the greatest intellects have thought about capitalism and its moral, political, and cultural ramifications. Covering capitalism from its 17th-century beginnings to today's era of globalization, Professor Muller explores these thinkers' insights on some wide-ranging questions:. As capitalism continues to expand across geographical borders, provocative questions emerge about its overall impact.
What are the short- and long-term implications of globalization? How and when should we construct economic policies to strengthen or limit its growth? Can capitalism ever undermine itself? By placing capitalism in its full societal context, Thinking about Capitalism enhances your ability to consider, discuss, and answer these and other critical questions—whatever your point of view. For almost three centuries, some of the most interesting thinkers in history have grappled with capitalism. They have explored its key features, cultural prerequisites, and human implications with excitement, caution, or even fear.
Their writings have defended capitalism, argued against it, disagreed over how to characterize it, and questioned whether the human costs incurred in its practice can be outweighed by the obvious material benefits it brings. Their insights can prove invaluable in every area of your life. They can surface in the decisions you make about family, work, and consumption; and they can give you a more thoughtful perspective on the ideas and behaviors of commentators, corporations, and governments. An intellectual historian, Professor Muller takes you from capitalism's beginnings in commercial Holland and England to the challenges of nationalism, globalization, and contemporary varieties of capitalism.
Genial and disarming, he connects the dots from idea to idea, thinker to thinker. In Thinking about Capitalism , you can finally grasp the history and the concepts of this vital economic system, as well as its importance on the global economic stage and in your own life. This experience is optimized for Internet Explorer version 10 and above.
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