Collaborative Initiatives

The Nathan Cummings Foundation

The technological, economic globalization and communications revolutions are causing transformations that create challenges to social and economic justice and the ability to foster equitable and sustainable economic growth that promotes individual opportunity, social well being and community. In addition to their many benefits, these transformations create economic disruptions, insecurities, inequalities, adverse environmental impacts, and health disparities, while sometimes truncating certain kinds of cultural development.

For the past three decades, the approach of public policy to these transformations has been a trend to encourage economic growth by deregulating markets, lowering taxes and shrinking government. Yet the consequences of these approaches sometimes compound and exacerbate the very problems they seek to solve. These public policy approaches, along with the transformations they encourage, have led to a real redistribution of economic and political power, affecting our culture and values, our communities, the quality of our lives, and who receives the benefits, and who bears the risks and costs of this economic growth. Such public policies give more influence and leverage to those with large monetary resources, such as large corporations, often potentially overshadowing the needs of other parts of society. Pressures of competition encourage these groups and those they influence to use their leverage to develop private and public strategies that maximize their share of the benefits, while putting as many of the risks and costs of their activities off on others, such as government, communities, the people or the environment. This exacerbates inequities and insecurities of the less powerful, and contributes to adverse cultural, social, environmental and health-related consequences.

The accountability and countervailing power needed to balance these institutions, their interests and influences, has been severely weakened over the past few decades, to the detriment of many individuals and families. An accountability approach would seek to have institutions, especially corporations, "internalize"; the risks and costs that they create and from which they benefit. This approach would increase the ability of those who are adversely impacted to deal with these issues and would also create appropriate incentives for any needed institutional and societal reform.

Interprogram Initiatives for Social and Economic Justice would seek to create both the possibilities and demand for development of more systematic solutions to these problems, as well as the social basis needed for their implementation.

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