I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to this year’s Reith Lecturesby Professor Sandel.  He asked some tough questions that face us today and one that  stopped me in my tracks was one about the role of markets in achieving public good.

Have markets been disconnected from the public value and if so how do we remedy them? Is it that we have become so greedy or are markets simply responding to demand.  Can greed be put to some good use or specifically public good?

Are there things that money can  buy but should not buy? He cited examples such as outsourcing security in war torn areas, paying surrogate mothers, access to health care and education as well as refugees!

Should refugees fleeing war torn areas be required to  pay $50,000 for an American green card for instance ? Or is a better way to market refugees? How would this work? If Japan had to take in 10, 000 refugees as an obligation but didn’t want to and instead chose to enter into negotiations with Uganda to take on these refugees for a fee. That would enable Japan to meet its obligation and provide Uganda with an income, and provide refugees with somewhere safe to live but would this be fair to the refugees. Is it ethical or morally right to sell refugees?

These are tough questions folk. There are implications for whatever choices we make. Is Equality the same as being fair?

Should UK politicians have claimed all that money simply because they were entitled to it? Were their actions ethical? Do markets have a role to play in ethics? How do you balance it all? Where do we draw the line.

You will recall my earlier blog on Vulture funds  someone that read it on Twitter had this to say” GOD SAVE US ALL IF THIS IS A SIGN OF THINGSS TO COME” is she right to be concerned

I would be interested in your views on the issues raised in Reith Lectures

In trying to address this issue a good start would be to understand that meaning assigned to the word Ethics.

The meaning I assign to the word Ethics is derived from the African ideology/philosophy of Ubuntu which is about how people relate to one another, look out for one another and a general acceptance that everybody matters. Iam becuase you are!

That being the case, the ethical thing to do whilst designing development programmes is to make them inclusive from the word go!

This means that you take time to understand the people in the community you intend to work, understand their culture, the importance they assign to things and people in their lives, environment etc

You must establish what their priorities are and if they don’t tie in what you have in mind be prepared to change/adapt yours, after all you would not sell Aspirin to some that wasn’t in pain or had no use for it

What if anything have to community done to address these priorities?

What challenges face these communities, in otherwords if whatever you are offering is a priority for the community, why hasn’t it been addressed

It is important to be open and sincere with the people.

Be prepared to learn from them after all you are their beat and they know it better than you do.

IMHO development programmes are not that different from projects elsewhere in the world and the basic reasons they fail is due to poor design and by this I mean the people/end users were left out of the planning stage.

We have several examples of this in Europe, Public Housing design, the Elephant and Castle, the Millenium Dom etc

The Ethical thing to do therefore is to have due regard for communities and not seek ” to do things” to them because we believe this is what they need!

Remember unless they have said so programmes will not be sustainable due to lack of ownership which comes from being included!

Your views please