November 30, 2008

New kind of capitalism boosts quality of life

Even rock-ribbed capitalists would agree with Jay Hancock that market-based economies can and should benefit all citizens in hard times - whether what motivates entrepreneurs is selfishness or not ("Butcher, baker, unemployment line maker," Nov. 22). But rather than a "payroll co-operative," as he suggests, let's consider a more effective and efficient way to use the rewards that come to those leading successful enterprises. Call it Capitalism 2.0.

In such a system, which is growing in Baltimore right now, the market economy drives the means of generating wealth, but an awakening social conscience redefines how that wealth is distributed.

For instance, one locally owned company, Vehicles for Change, runs a used-car lot where the profits go to purchase dependable used cars for low-income workers. Two miles away, Harbor City Services runs a records retention and document management firm that gives steady employment to those whose lives are unsteady as a result of mental illness or substance abuse.

There are many businesses run by such social entrepreneurs. They are working hard, running competitive companies and using the money to do good.

Now, imagine if this approach became the norm in our society. In this tide, all boats really would rise.

More than 20 years ago, Peter Drucker predicted a post-capitalist society. He envisioned social entrepreneurs harnessing the competitive spirit so ingrained in our culture and redirecting it toward the greater good.

It wasn't revolutionary thinking but evolutionary thinking, and it's now taking hold in our city and others across this great country.

Capitalism 2.0 can boost the bottom line - not only because it's sound business practice but because it can improve the quality of life for all.

Jim Kucher, Baltimore

The writer is executive director of the Entrepreneurial Opportunity Center at the University of Baltimore.

Obama now evading grandiose promises

The editorial "Filling a vacuum" (Nov. 25) would have been funny if it weren't so ludicrous: The partisan, biased Baltimore Sun claims that President-elect Barack Obama has been careful not to over-promise, cautioning that many sacrifices lie ahead.

Well, I seem to remember many grandiose promises Mr. Obama made during his campaign for the presidency. But now that he has succeeded in skillfully deceiving the voters, he has slowly begun backing away from those promises he knew he couldn't fulfill.

Mr. Obama is just a typical politician, not the magician he made himself out to be.

Gail Householder, Marriottsville

Way too soon to link Obama with Lincoln

I've seen several letters recently that either compare President-elect Barack Obama to Abraham Lincoln or draw an analogy between them ("New 'team of rivals' shows real strength," letters, Nov. 25).

I think that everyone needs to take a step back and breathe a little. President Lincoln was one of the greatest presidents our country has known. President-elect Obama is just that: president-elect.

He's yet to be officially sworn in as president, and he's being compared to Lincoln?

Mr. Obama has a difficult enough road ahead of him. Let's allow him to prove his mettle before comparing him to such a luminary.

Brian Fitzpatrick, Catonsville

Reporting defames victim of slashing

How dare reporter Gus Sentementes end the tragic story of the slashing of Aysha D. Ring by telling the readers Ms. Ring was charged with an "alcohol related" incident a year ago ("Few clues in Catonsville slashing," Nov. 24)? What was the point of sharing this news with the public?

Ms. Ring was a professional mentor and personal friend to hundreds of students in the corporate internship program of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School.

These students looked up to Ms. Ring every single day as an example of what good ethical behavior, hard work and a chance to go to college can do for inner-city youngsters.

Shame on The Baltimore Sun for attempting to make her look like a bad person instead of the wonderful, loving and giving young woman she was.

Karen Paglia, Baltimore

The writer works for a firm that sponsors a corporate internship program at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School.

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