The Business of Saving Polar Bears
I heard a provocative quote on CNN a couple days ago. A Republican, responding to recent reports about govt failures re: Katrina, commented that one reason for it was that the culture of govt. had to change- that govt. promotes safety, it doesn't promote initiative, whereas business does promote taking risks and initiative.
Then he said what struck me: "transparency does not promote initiative"- re: taking the initiative to solve problems such as Katrina ...but business WOULD.If that is the case, why are the insurance companies resisting paying their insured in New Orleans?
The implications from this pro-business politician seemed to be: business competition thrives on secrecy; transparency. Honesty, attribution all "get in the way" of taking initiative. But the evidence is that this sort of initiative has selfish results, The problemmatic translation seems to be: lie, steal & be selfish to get ahead (for yourself alone).
The art world, which I am part of, straddles academia, which values attribution. Attribution should be a form of generosity & humility. But academia is now so infiltrated by business (in the conventional sense) that the values of the conventional business world have a trickle down effect in order to get grant money. Too often, academic articles I read, seem to list sources as evidence of homework done rather than to establish clear lines of actual of ownership.
I think the conflation of govt-military-corporate interests globally exacerbates this trend. I question, as I know the most forward business thinkers also do, how ultimately efficient, pragmatic & useful these old economic models are.
For some years, I have worked with a collegial list serve group of ecological artists. Over time I have noticed that our tasks to restore ecological health have direct economic consequences.
We are deliberately trying to dismantle old models, often referencing indigenous systems. That may be a romantic construct but it does inspire us to act to give back to life rather than take away.
And I have not noticed ANY lack of initiative. Au contraire. The vitality of this group and the projects initiated, followed thru with etc are only enriched by animated transparency. Individual careers have thrived and we are gaining (albeit slowly) on getting decent fees, etc.
So if the old model is that to get ahead, careerists have to choose between stealing, lying, etc., or running for safe cover, then I think it is time to try the unfamiliar. I think there's another way to have initiative, take chances & guarantee the most safety. And say yes to life, generosity and advancement... and the polar bears.