Of Profits, Charity & Ideas Whose Time Has Come

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Calvin Coolidge is quoted as saying that “The chief business of America is business.”(1) We might do well to alter that by saying “The Chief ‘bidness’ of New Orleans is ‘bidness’.” Right now, the city is grappling with “bidness” maladies that include decaying infrastructure, a water system on the verge of collapse and a tax system that scares the bejesus belt out of many entrepreneurs. Add to that a crime epidemic compounded by 1/4 of the city looking like(2) a scene from the video game Fallout 3 and you do not have the conditions under which you’d expect a boom.

That doesn’t stop some from believing the next big thing is that boom as the fifth annual New Orleans Entrepreneur Week(3) shows evidence of. Put on by the Idea Village(4) which proselytizes an “economic ecosystem” approach to business.  The last time I asked why a business, which in my Smithian(5) understanding of the word, pursues profits, is a non-profit, I was accused of being hostile to the endeavor. I still wonder why one seeking profits and dividends, entrepreneurs, would throw in with those who don’t but let me be charitable: The Idea Village is producing results boasting that it has raised over $3.1 million in capital for it’s “Village.” Couple that with an estimated $100 million in economic impact and the Idea Village might be an Idea whose time has come.

I would still like to see more Mike Rowe style “Dirty Jobs” startups blooming from the group, & the City in general, turning that techno brain power into making better widgets and things used to make widgets. But, the fact that the group has put The Big Easy on the techno map with techno behemoth Google is a net positive and I applaud their efforts. Nice job.

Speaking of non-profits, I hope to see many of you this weekend at City Pork for the Fifth Annual Hogs for The Cause(6) bbq festival & contest. I’ll be cooking with my team The Death Chefs(7) and happily donating our PROFITS to this worthy charity.

(1) http://www.mikechurch.com/daily-clip/amity-shlaes-interview-calvin-coolidge/

(2) http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2012/08/new_orleans_is_no_longer_the_m.html

A report released August 20th, 2012 shows that Detroit and Flint, Mich., had a greater percentage of dilapidated housing stock than the Crescent City, a first since the levees failed and drowned the city in 2005. The new report Greater New Orleans Data Center estimated that 8,000 properties in New Orleans were repaired or rebuilt between September 2010 and March 2011, leaving around 21 percent of all properties blighted, compared with 27 percent in Flint and 24 percent in Detroit.

(3) http://www.nola.com/business/index.ssf/2013/03/wednesday_at_new_orleans_entre.html#incart_river_default

(4) http://www.ideavillage.org/

(5) http://www.gutenberg.org/files/3300/3300-h/3300-h.htm

In his “AN INQUIRY INTO THE NATURE AND CAUSES OF THE WEALTH OF NATIONS.”  Adam Smith went to great lengths to show that capital is divided into 3 divisions. The existence of a “non-profit” is therefore a paradox for there can not be nothing of any something.  Smith wrote “It has been shown in the First Book, that the price of the greater part of commodities resolves itself into three parts, of which one pays the wages of the labour, another the profits of the stock, and a third the rent of the land which had been employed in producing and bringing them to market: that there are, indeed, some commodities of which the price is made up of two of those parts only, the wages of labour, and the profits of stock; and a very few in which it consists altogether in one, the wages of labour; but that the price of every commodity necessarily resolves itself into some one or other, or all, of those three parts; every part of it which goes neither to rent nor to wages, being necessarily profit to some body.

Since this is the case, it has been observed, with regard to every particular commodity, taken separately, it must be so with regard to all the commodities which compose the whole annual produce of the land and labour of every country, taken complexly. The whole price or exchangeable value of that annual produce must resolve itself into the same three parts, and be parcelled out among the different inhabitants of the country, either as the wages of their labour, the profits of their stock, or the rent of their land.”

(6) http://www.hogsforthecause.org

(7) http://www.facebook.com/TheDeathChefs