It was interesting to come across two different interpretations regarding corporate social responsibility in the same day: one from Justin Fox at Bloomberg, and one from Kevin Erdmann which noted an essentially cosmopolitan rationale on Milton Friedman's part. Indeed...what to think when a corporation does decide to embrace something which at least ten percent of the population does not agree with? Perhaps it depends on the actual corporate stance!
Both of these posts are revealing, in the contrasts they provide. Practically speaking, today's corporations have little incentive to express social purpose as part of a mission. Only consider the degree to which governments in developed nations - particularly in the twentieth century - managed to constantly expand the missions they espoused. Consider particularly the way this redistribution mess gets in the way of helping the poor, who are in line well behind the others who are always ready for another handout. Governmental desires to "please" most everyone becomes built in tax obligations for businesses - by default. How can private industry be expected to meaningfully tackle additional social missions, when overlapping social purposes are already embedded in their preexisting commitments?
What if corporations and individuals alike, had the option of taking on social obligations which would be capable of benefiting the participants involved? Before anyone insists this isn't "fair"...what about the tangled web of random social obligations that are skewered beyond recognition?? Populations now feel sufficiently burdened by existing tax obligations, that nations have become reluctant to remain open to new citizens. Is there room in any of this nonsense, for people to once again start helping one another?
Local chartered communities could opt for investment structures that have the capacity to provide a safety net for everyone involved. Not only would this strategy help lower income levels, it could generate corporate responsibility based on a highly pragmatic set of needs. A bare minimum of local taxation would be necessary, because maintenance responsibility would be built into locally invested production, asset and infrastructure formation. Services which normally would be partially funded by governmental redistribution, would instead become a part of what local educational structures are actually intended for. In other words, little about the transmission process of resource commitments would remain hidden.
How might one think about corporate responsibility, in terms of organizational structure for knowledge use systems? Even though a strong social component is involved, it would override those random non voluntary commitments which are far less tangible. Plus, intangible tax burdens contribute to the needless failures of countless individuals and businesses - in the workplace and life in general.
Local corporations would be exactly that - inclusive of those who share their geographic location.* Rather than "mining" the best knowledge in a given (wide) area, these corporations would seek to maximize the skills capacity of local time use aggregates. This marketplace for coordinated time use would eventually strengthen individual abilities, alongside knowledge use patterns at local levels. Time arbitrage would allow broader representation of a local marketplace, than money alone has been able to provide through merit based compensation.
Time arbitrage would simply provide a voluntary option for knowledge use, beyond the meritocratic ideal which both governments and present day businesses follow. One way to think about the time ownership this corporate structure would allow, are the comparative services advantages that would become available within dense groupings. In some instances, services formations would become possible, that rival what one would normally associate with prosperous regions or large cities.
Knowledge based communities would have corporate structures whose missions include maximizing local time aggregate values by the most productive means possible. Even though this sounds open ended, there is a recognizable framework which makes the transmission between wealth creation and services formation understandable. Corporations which prove capable of organizing human potential in diverse settings, could help make the future brighter than it presently appears.
*Entry would be gained either by familiarity with the system (by partaking in other knowledge use systems) or study of the relevant group beforehand.
Update: Plenty of confusion regarding how to invest, presently (Pethokoukis on Power Lunch): http://www.aei.org/press/is-corporate-america-too-focused-on-short-term-pethokoukis-on-cnbcs-power-lunch/