Dear members and friends,
Being a millionaire is no longer considered wealthy in Bush’s America. According to a new book, ‘Richistan’ by Robert Frank, the new threshold is $10 million, and, incredibly, nearly 3 million Americans are already in this bracket. But in the richest country the world has ever known, the wealth stays at the top – economists calculate that the gap between rich and poor is widening.
In the 1970s I had a good look at the Mondragon workers co-operative movement in the north of Spain. I was inspired by the founding principles – like ‘wage solidarity’ – whereby the ratio between the lowest and the highest salaries should not be more than 1:3. The Mondragon co-operatives have flourished – the group now comprises 250 companies and 83,000 staff – but the pressure of competing globally has meant that in some new co-operatives the salary differential has widened to 1:8. In the 1970s the average American CEO was paid 40 times the wage of an average worker – last year the difference was a massive 170 times. World research confirms what common sense tells us – extreme inequality makes societies more disfunctional, violent, sick and sad.
I grew up in an extended family of cafes and chip shops – an enterprise culture where those with imagination, who worked hard, got on. But satisfaction in working for yourself is far removed from the super-rich club of neo-cons who manipulate the global market place. A powerful elite, loyal only to what it owns, is a threat to world stability. We mustn’t let these people get beyond our reach – maybe they are already.
Most ordinary folk argue that the SNP’s first 100 days in office have brought a fresh bold energy. The Labour party seems bewildered – looking round for a leader. Looks like Swinney is minded to radically reshape Scottish Enterprise – but I hope he can improve on his original idea of transferring the LEC functions to local councils. No force has done more to resist the growth of social enterprise in Scotland than our local authorities. Particularly in Glasgow and Edinburgh, along with the community sector, we are seen as direct opposition to their municipal fiefdoms. If business support for social and community enterprise goes to councils we’ll have to soldier on in spite of them – just as we do now.
Stephen Maxwell asks, in the current issue of TFN, if perhaps OSCR has misinterpreted the law in its initial review of 8 charities – selected because they exemplify potentially problematic areas. OSCR has decided that for a school to charge fees of between £6-8K per annum is not ‘unduly restrictive’, because, they say, 13% of pupils receive a bursary. This judgment has huge implications for the charitable status of Scotland’s private education sector. Maxwell suggests that when Scotland’s Parliament’s reassembles, it may disagree with this ruling. It will certainly be very interesting. https://senscot.net/?viewid=6436
Part of Senscot’s core work is the facilitation of Local Social Enterprise Networks (LSENs) around Scotland, of which there are 15 at the moment – 3 under development. Our website has more info. Each of these is autonomous, though some reps have introduced the notion of a federation. To provide administrative continuity, LSENs try to raise money in their region, and we hear form Sheila Durie that East Lothian LSEN has had some success. Here’s her news and a link to her successful application:
Laurie Russell Chief Executive of the Wise Group has just been elected as the new Chair of the Scottish Social Enterprise Coalition. Full details of the new Board will be on the www.ssec.org.uk site next week.
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but submit jobs and events and we’ll post them on our site. See http://www.senscot.net/index.php?W21ID=86&W21SUBID=0. This week:
JOBS: 22 vacancies, incl. posts with: swim4all, Scottish Executive, One World Shop, Soil Association Scotland, Big Lottery Fund, Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh and Lothians Greenspace Trust.
EVENTS: 14 events, incl. Kilsyth International Carnival, Kilsyth, 12 Aug; Inclusive Arts Network Fair Play Drama, 14 & 16 Aug, Dumfries; The Ecology Centre Summer Festival, Craigencalt, 19 Aug; Public Social Partnership conference, Glasgow; 29 Aug; Social Enterprise Business Models Conference, Glasgow, 4 Sept;
The Social Enteprise Academy runs its Twenty-Twenty summer school for Scotland’s social entrepreneurs of tomorrow, Barony Castle, Eddleston: 20-23 Sept: http://www.senscot.net/view_event.php?viewid=6405
The Melting Pot in Edinburgh is looking for examples of Not4Profit Ltd Companies getting full or discretionary rate relief within Scotland. Can you help? https://senscot.net/?viewid=6435
A new survey provides up-to-date information on the characteristics, composition and behaviour of households in Scotland in a number of areas, particularly relating to communities, transport and local government. I found this very interesting: https://senscot.net/?viewid=6438
Community land trusts are independent, not for profit bodies that hold and manage land for the benefit of the people. By taking land ‘out of the market’ social housing can be kept affordable. The newly announced £8bn housing building drive in England includes 14 new pilots involving Land trust developments. Does Scotland have any? https://senscot.net/?viewid=6440
At the Communities department, Hazel Blears seems determined to bring ‘devolution to the doorstep’ by ensuring that every community in England will have its own pot of money to spend within 5 years. But there is much experience which shows that neighbourhood democracy is complex, and three researchers from the University of West England have edited a book of relevant findings. It’s £25 – but this taster, published by New Start, suggests that it may be worth it. https://senscot.net/?viewid=6437
Gordon Brown said last week that he will personally prioritise feasibility work on a social investment bank as advocated by his friend Ronald Cohen, chair of the Commission for Unclaimed Assets. The treasury has announced, however, that Scotland’s share of the unclaimed assets will pass to the Scottish Executive for decision on spending. Consequential payments to Scotland for Third Sector purposes are routinely diverted. The public debate which led to the original allocation is thereby ignored in favour of back door priorities. Let’s keep our eyes on this money. https://senscot.net/?viewid=5881
This week we profile Good Green Fun. Launched in October last year, Good Green Fun is a CIC (Community Interest Company) which recycles children’s toys, clothes, books and accessories like buggies, prams and cots. Based at Stirling Enterprise Park the company takes in old toys and equipment and sells them on at affordable prices. The Good Green Fun shop is open to the public Tuesday to Saturday 9am-4pm. So far Good Green Fun has diverted 5.3 tonnes from landfill, including 1.5 tonnes collected through local schools. For further info’, see http://www.senscot.net/view_prof.php?viewid=6439
I frequently dip into Jack Kornfields ‘A Path with Heart’ – my bedside copy currently has twelve page markers. Kornfield took the title from words Carlos Castenada gave to Don Juan:
“Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself and yourself alone, one question. This question is one that only a very old man asks. My benefactor told me about it once when I was young, and my blood was too vigorous for me to understand it. Now I do understand it. I will tell you what it is. Does this path have a heart? All paths are the same: they lead nowhere. They are paths going through the bush or into the bush…In my own life I could say I have traversed long, long paths, but I am not anywhere. My benefactor’s question has meaning now. Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t it is of no use.”
That’s all for this week. Good luck with your adventures