Monthly Archives: August 2016

Professor Muhammad Yunus, Olympic torchbearer, speaks to the IOC

 A reader sends news that Nobel Peace Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus was invited to be an Olympic Torchbearer for the Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil, by the President of the International Olympic Committee Mr Thomas Bach. Professor Yunus bore the Olympic torch at the final leg of the relay in Rio on 4 August, 2016.

The Rio Olympic Torch relay began with the traditional Olympic flame lighting ceremony in the Greek city of Olympia, birthplace of the ancient Games, on 21 April, 2016. In Brazil, the Rio 2016 Olympic Torch Relay started in the Brazilian capital Brasília on 3 May. After travelling more than three hundred cities throughout the country, it ended on 5 August 2016 during the Opening Ceremony at the Maracanã Stadium.

yunus 2 olympics speech

Professor Yunus addressed the International Olympic Committee (IOC), attended by representatives of the national Olympic Committees from around the world, in Rio on August 4, 2016. He spoke on “Athletics, Social Business and SDGs – the New Vision of the World”. In social business, another concept pioneered by Professor Yunus, the purpose of an organisation is to benefit people and the planet in a sustainable way by using best business practices. Read more and click on Professor Yunus’ videoed speech here.

He will be jointly working with the IOC to develop a social dimension to the athletics and the sports world, right from the grass root level to the global level. This will include all IOC events, venues and participating organizations, creating social businesses to address human problems around them.

Those wishing to know more about Professor Yunus’ approach to social business may read his chapter on the subject on the West Midlands New Economics website.

 

 

Elect a public-spirited prime minister with the nerve to take on corporate ‘titans’

edward luceEdward Luce, an English journalist and the Financial Times’ chief US commentator and columnist based in Washington, DC, comments:

”The last people to grasp that things have gone wrong are the wealthy, the well-connected and the cognitive elites” . . .

“The wealthy’s share of the economy has risen sharply since the start of the century. The share of corporate profits in the economy has also soared. If you are rich you can afford what used to be normal for everyone — the privilege of interacting with human beings (in the service sector)”.

Thus:

  • high net worth individuals receive personalised banking, where their bank manager knows their name and needs.
  • The wealthy also benefit from so-called concierge health services, which come with a human face.
  • Many oligopolistic service providers keep clandestine lists of VIP customers who need not wade through robotic software before reaching a customer service agent. When they pick up the phone, a human answers.

Ordinary consumers, much like most voters, know there are different rules for them. They also sense that the big service providers pay more attention to regulators than to their disaffected customers. It is a perfectly rational thing to do.

The top companies have markedly increased their market share in the past decade and this has led to a lack of real competition — giving them licence to treat consumers with impunity in the telecoms, information technology, transport, retail services and banking sectors.

Politicians rank their priorities in much the same order. Voters come low on their list.

Lawmakers devote time to raising money from donors. In most areas, the voter barely matters since gerrymandering or the party elite will have has rigged the election. Politicians with large war chests are far less likely to be challenged for their party’s nomination. The same logic leads companies to keep a strong lobbying presence in government circles.

Luce asks “So what can people do? As consumers very little”.

But to elect a public-spirited prime minister with the nerve to take on corporate ‘titans’ would be great populism and smart policy.