World Futures: Profit, Non-Profit, Not-For-Profit Part 4

Los Alamos World Futures Institute
In the previous columns we looked at individual, profit, nonprofit, and government bubbles in a bubble model. All individual bubble, including marriages and families, want to make a profit – the means to satisfy needs as perceived by them.
Profit companies are in business to make a profit collectively, by the owner or shareholders, but not necessarily the employees. The government bubble likes profit making bubbles because they are a source of revenue, noting the individuals are also members of the government.
The legally nonprofit bubbles differ in that the government does not see them as a source of revenue other than the individual, internal, laboring bubbles being paid. But the nonprofit bubbles can and do aid the government in furthering social causes, advocating for a point of view, or contributing to the social culture.
As an example, a community may have several organizations involved with recreation and form: a soccer or swim team, an art forum, scouting, acting, or even helping others in need. These organizations themselves may need income to cover expenses even if mainly staffed by volunteers.
As they grow beyond local, they may need more income from donations and “selling” products. The need for facilities, staff, and other infrastructure grows. Assuming the organization is executing its mission of doing good, we like and honor them even if we debate the salaries of needed staff. But what missions are acceptable or must be tolerated because of personal perspective?
Last time we identified two categories of nonprofits under the legal definitions for tax exemption.
While important for the governmental bubble, it might be better to focus on social issues that might be influenced.
According to Wikipedia, there are 10 types of social issues; social satisfaction; economics; social disorganization; public health; age and life course; social inequality; education; work and occupations; environmental racism; and abortion.
For the United States we might add hate crimes, obesity, hunger, alcohol and drugs, and media propaganda. Have you watched the “news” lately? My guess is that you have an opinion on any and all of these items.
But do you have a workable solution for the 330 billion bubbles in the country? Is it a governmental issue, one for nonprofits, or a needed partnership of both?
Going further I found the “Table of contents for Social issues in America: and encyclopedia,” James Ciment, editor on the Library of Congress website. The table identifies 165 issues, some very much in line with the Wikipedia list.
For example (it’s a long list): at risk students, higher education; birth control (abortion?); civil rights; crime; corporate downsizing; evolution education; food and drug safety; genetic engineering; hate crimes; heart disease; infectious disease and epidemics; media bias; minimum and living wages; obesity; public opinion polling; racial profiling; women’s rights; and immigration, both legal and illegal. I said it was a long list. Actually the list here represents less than 15 percent of the table of contents.
If you divided 330 million by 165, the numbers say we could sort the population and assign 2 million people into a single nonprofit for each of the areas listed in the table of contents.
This is clearly a foolish idea because each of the areas or topics needs unity of effort among the entire population. Each individual also needs to make a profit. So how much time and labor is really available? And what are the qualifications of each bubble to really contribute or is it better to just get out of the way? Also, what about the government, a nonprofit that has a major role in creating a solution friendly environment? Or are we, in the great majority, mainly of necessity focused on making our own profit?
On March 9, 1779, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith was published. It is often viewed as the foundation of capitalism and clearly underscores the acceptance of making a profit. Do you want to make a profit? Sure you do.
It is necessary for a livelihood. The debate is on the term “livelihood” and its definition. Concurrently, though we want a happy, building environment for us, the ones we love, and our friends, we also want the opportunity to grow, to move up on Maslow’s Hierarchy.
Organizationally, however, building the environment does not create profit making in the sense of a medium for trade. Rather, the profit is the medium itself, the happiness of society, collectively and individually, and the opportunities it provides. It is building the social medium, the fluid that surrounds us all. It needs the accountable, trustworthy, honest and open nonprofits.
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