I want to figure out what that means.
Wikipedia is just too easy to ignore. I'm going to go through their definition and try to figure out everything on there that confuses me. That should be a good starting point.
Okay, so here are some things that go into The Big Society:
1. There will be a Big Society Bank established in 2011 that will take money from banks, dormant British accounts (??), and charitable contributions. This money can be accessed by grants from charity organizations and community centers.
The Bank is a non-governmental organization. It will be financially self-sufficient. this is what it says (from the cabinent report):
"second, the Bank must help prove that putting
money into social ventures can generate both
social impact and real inancial returns. This is
vital for building market conidence in what is
a new ‘asset class’. It is also part of building the
Bank’s own investment track record, and thus
its ability to raise more capital if required"
What that sounds like is something like the microfunding projects like kiva.org and that other one by the Indian guy who only lends to women (i can't find the name of it now - GRAMA VASANTHAM' maybe? Gramin bank!) where they claim that social entrepreneuership lending is actually profitable. but this is different. how can non-profits be profitable? am i missing something? moving on...
ok, ok...The Big Society Bank will not directly accept grants from non-profits. Rather it will give money to funds (intermediaries) that will give money to "social ventures." okay, i'm with you so far. i think the part that is confusing is that i'm not familiar with anything like this happening anywhere else. i need a podcast on this.
The New Yorker wrote a piece on this (Lauren Collins: "What's the Big Society?") and referenced Edmund Burke who is viewed as the philosophical founder of modern conservatism in the UK. And the New Yorker associated him with ideas such as government being left out of people's affairs and instead small bands of citizens joining together to accomplish things in society. I am out of my depth here.
An idea that might be scary to Brits but is normal to Americans is the existence of a big philanthropic sector. Americans don't assume that the government should be the first to help out homeless people. They assume that the shelters should. Why do we assume this? The Big Society is encouraging people to start taking responsibility for helping each other out instead of the government helping out. Wow. how does one change the social assumptions of a nation?? Wow.
The Labour Party has called this plan "DIY Britain" - haha.