Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sustainable Synergy

The famous approach of creating win-win situations has had several criticisms as well as praises. As much as the proposal to cooperate is appreciated, in terms of human interaction it is not enough anymore that both parties obtain an advantage from the bond. The deeper we move into the scientific diagnosis of environmental issues, especially the deterioration of micro and macro ecosystems of which humans are just a part of, the more necessary it becomes to include the environmental dimension in the equation of all human interactions.

If synergy is the the greater result of an interaction than the sum of its isolated elements, then by definition, one of the elements has to be the environment -because it is only one we all share- and it has to be positive, or at least not negative. Aiming at a human interaction in which there was a negative environmental impact and still hoping to have a positive balance in the equation is neither rational nor sensitive. It would be the equivalent of thinking three friends will set up a business, but from the start they all know that the contribution of one of them will be negative, hoping that, in the end, the result of the interaction will have a positive balance.

Therefore, all ideas, plans, businesses, innovation, policy and any new human creation for better quality of human life must consider the environmental impact. Otherwise, the creation is not virtuous, not sustainable, and clearly not win-win anymore. In fact, a new human creation that deteriorates the environment is a lose-lose situation.

One way to improve this condition is to start building consensus with our counterparts to evaluate if our creation is virtuous and of public interest. Eventually, one day this could become a global best practice: the same way there are certificates for high corporate standards, there could be certificates of global interest to sponsor businesses, policies, innovations, etc.

Likewise, the generation of wealth in the knowledge era has radically altered the purpose behind taxation, which was a retribution by the capitalist to the society, administrated by the government, for the improvement of public conditions as a means to redistribute wealth more evenly.

Today, when a single individual can have earnings of over $1 billion in a year, a 40% taxation falls short of the purpose of more equally redistributing wealth in society. What would happen if earnings over $1 million were taxed with 40%, over $10 million with 50%, and over $100 million with 70%? Is this really a negative incentive for wealth generation? Is this really going to make a difference in the quality of life and purchasing power parity of the individuals and corporations that earn the highest incomes? Is this scenario really so scary as to call it "SOCIALISM?"

In times when the environment, the financial markets, globalization and capitalism are at the intensive-care unit, before switching radically to the opposite side -communist planning and deglobalization- let us try to fix the system we already have so we start generating synergies in human interactions including the environment and the reduction of socioeconomic inequality as two of its advantageous outcomes in the quadruple-win elements.

No comments: