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Saturday, February 23, 2008


dave mcclure

thanks for the comment Leila... altho actually, my entire effort above was to outline a solution that *DOES* involve real dollars. your comment "aren't captured well by dollars" is exactly my point... and i'm trying to outline the alternative.

in fact, i think the biggest problem right now is folks who are trying to take shortcuts by defining "double- or triple-bottom-line" concepts that approximate real currency. i don't believe the shortcuts work. while it's possible that govt's & foundations may step in and take corrective action in place of the market, there's no guarantee they won't create corruptive problems that are as troublesome as the original problem they're trying to solve.

the securitization concepts i've outlined are specifically about taking these fuzzy notional ideas of value, and turning them into hard, well-defined numbers & dollars that can be used to solve the problem. imho, the way to really address these issues long-term is to attack the heart of the problem, and go after creating real money & markets that will motivate economically-incentivized actors to solve the issue for profit motives.

while the final solution doesn't have to be 100% focused on market-driven methods, by guess is it's more likely to happen that way than by groups motivated by good intentions.

as they say... "the road to hell is paved with good intentions".

Leila Chirayath

I think this has some very interesting linkages to the emerging movement to quantify the social impact of companies and non-profits. I recently attended a Google talk by Bruce Cahan, an Ashoka Fellow working on an "ethical bank" that would help consumers understand the social value of the purchases they make (coverage of his talk is on our blog at

Many social entrepreneurs are concerned with this problem; people seem to feel that costs and benefits in the social sector aren't captured well by dollars, but there's no good alternative -- dollars are one of the only forms of feedback that are universally recognized. Seems like an alternative currency (soul dollars? social value units?) could be useful in this space.

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