Morality of Profit essay competition from a profitable non-profit

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* Notes and thoughts on the non-profit behind the essay competition The Morality of Profit, http://www.sevenfund.org/morality-of-profit/index.php

Regis Dale and Reverend Peter Gori are on the Form 990 (tax return that 501c3 and other nonprofits have to file) and not on the site that I noticed but the people on the site (Widmer, Brennan, and Fairbanks are on the board in the filing also) are probably who has an active hand in selecting (the selectors) anyway. Widmer and Fairbank's essays are cited as examples; i would believe them when they say they like their own work!

The "What is S.E.VEN's strategy" section in the FAQ - http://www.sevenfund.org/about.php#faq - is probably the best, and true, description of their philosophy.

They genuinely believe that people starting innovative businesses, entrepreneurs, can save the world-- and get very rich and make other rich people - investors - rich at the same time. Being rich already I imagine this is a very happy, comforting worldview.

They walk this talk, with Andreas Widmer and Michael Fairbanks getting about $200K apiece for running the fund, with another $400K a year for consulting going to The OTF Group which is reported in the tax filing as having board members as owners/consultants. (Walk maybe isn't the right word... somewhere between "walk" and "ride in a limousine".)

They're mostly funded by http://www.templeton.org/ which is mostly sciences except for a section that clearly overlaps with SEVEN, http://www.templeton.org/funding_areas/freedom_and_free_enterprise/ (links work on the side, not much of interest) which is very much in the Sane Capitalist, even Socially Responsible Capitalist, tradition-- and while markets are understood to be good the whole approach is non-dogmatic, though not explicitly anti-neoclassical economics like SEVEN appears to be.

Which I like a lot. The conspiracy take on this would be that they can see that defending the economic order with the old arguments (a magical perfect market gives the best of all possible worlds, here have a structural adjustment) will get them strung up sooner or later. Moreover, and more taking what they say at face value, they think poverty can be overcome separately from inequality, and that people starting businesses can do it. Certainly no mass movement of workers or regular people has a role. That said, they are among very few on any side looking at where economic growth actually occurs, the creation of new businesses (have you read Jane Jacobs? awesome), and making their mission to increase the "cultural understanding" and other things that can make the entrepreneurial process happen more.

Oh, in short, I think profit has to come out looking moral to win the prize!