Porter on Progress – Hosted by SPI #SkollWF 2017

Porter on Progress – Hosted by SPI #SkollWF 2017


Good afternoon and welcome. I am Edith Chapin of NPR For many of you, if you have
been to Skoll Forums before, Professor Michael Porter
needs no introduction but let me try anyway. He defies labels. He is a man of many talents. He can be an economist,
a researcher, an author, advisor, and of course he’s a teacher
at Harvard Business School, where he’s famous for his work on strategy. In this day and age the term
‘thought leader’ is grossly overused but in this case it’s very applicable. I hope you have cleared your minds because you are in for a thought provoking and provocative presentation. Following Professor Porter’s presentation, I will ask a question, maybe two, but the most thing is to get to your questions. So there are microphones
that will roam around, as they have at many of these panels,
if you’ve been to this auditorium before. Please do wait for the microphone,
but I will call on you. So with that housekeeping out of the way, it is my pleasure to introduce to you,
Professor Michael Porter. Edith, thank you. That was extremely generous and particularly today I’m a little
nervous about that introduction, because today I am doing
something that I very rarely do, I am going to talk about
something really for the first time. I got, about 18 months ago, based on a lot of the work I’d done
related to the agenda of Skoll, and I started getting pulled in an entirely new direction of work. And I did have hopefully some skills to bring to bear to that new direction but it’s a field in which I’d never worked. It’s a field in which thousands
of other people do work and so I stand here today
with great discomfort. I’m used to talking about stuff
I really, really understand but I think today’s session is
an effort to open up another front in this whole question of
how do we advance society. Everybody in this room is here because
we all care about advancing society, that’s what we do. We do it in a variety of different ways. So many of you do it through
social entrepreneurship. I do it through my research
and my practice out in the field. All of us does it in a different way, we care about lots of
different aspects of society but we’re all trying to advance it. That’s what we’re all about. And as I continued to work in this field, particularly over the last several decades,
I started to become convinced that it was getting really,
really hard to advance society. In some very fundamental
and important respects that I’d really never even considered. And so what I’d like to talk
today about is this pull. And this new territory. I don’t want to keep you in suspense but I do want to lay some groundwork first and then I’d like to sort of open up the question that I hope to shed some light on today. And, Edith, I’m not sure I’m
a thought leader on this topic but it’s something that I have
come to believe is fundamental and it’s something that I’ve come to believe that every one of us in this room
has to get engaged in. And yet most of us are not. And in fact some of us think that
if we get engaged in this topic it’s going to detract from what we really care
about doing which is advancing society. I think that the stage for this discussion has already been set in the Skoll meeting, just in the halls, listening to the sessions. We’ve talked a lot about populism
we just had a whole session on it. As an important phenomenon that’s
really affecting how societies operate. How people converse. Trust between citizens. A sense of hostility that
has grown in many societies, and for sure in the United States. Hostilities among ourselves. Americans against Americans. This is a conversation that’s been happening
here at Skoll for the last few days and I think all of you have
participated in that conversation. As we think about that conversation it’s kind of reflecting some
sort of deeper forces that seem to be at work right now. A sense of discontent,
of unequal opportunity. A strange disconnect between
conversation and reality. A sense that many citizens,
in many countries, really don’t understand
what’s in their interest. I think of the discussion we had in education
in America about the Common Core. Common Core was a way of
measuring educational attainment it was going to be a consistent measure
of educational progress across states. It was all about creating
a way of measuring whether children were building
the skills they needed to actually succeed in whatever
they were going to do next. But Common Core became
a divisive bitter issue and many parents, in horrendously
underperforming school districts all across America, became angry. And mobilized a lot of forces against
the Common Core and it got dropped. So what more is in those parents’ interests
than having educational quality improve? And what more way of doing that
that we that we know about is actually out to see how well we’re
doing and using that to improve? But actually many citizens
thought that was wrong. We’re having a debate now about trade. And we have a lot of people believing that if we protect our country, its economy,
we will be more prosperous. Well we know that that won’t be true. We’ve known that for decades. We tried that, it didn’t work. It almost brought the whole world
down in terms of the world economy. But we have people believing
that that’s in their interests, that they should be for that and
there’s a lot of that today. We have a very divisive
elections and campaigns. We have people who are deep
outsiders who are starting to win. And I won’t mention the team name. But it’s all about being an outsider. It’s not about anything else
in that particular case. We have citizens thinking that
other citizens are the problem. Rather than, I think the historical
view, particularly in America, that we’re all citizens, we get along, we work together, we try to build
a better society for all of us, you know, we respect
others in our society We’re having this fear and
divisiveness crop up. Citizens are not trusting institutions
that are critical like our democracy. People think democracy is rigged. Somehow the game is not working
so they’re not participating. 40% of the people didn’t vote
in the last presidential election in the United States of America. And a lot of them will say, gee,
I don’t want to participate in this. And this is really the punch line. If we look around, look at America,
and we look at a lot of other countries what we’re seeing is what is
sometimes called gridlock. We are just not able to move
the ball forward. On things we know we have to do. On things where actually
the majority agrees. And this is what drew me to this
issue that I’d like to talk about. And this issue is politics. The last person sitting in this room who I would have thought
would do work on politics is me. I am the orthogonal actor to politics, I’m about content, I’m about theory
about frameworks, I’m about structure, I’m about reality, I’m about facts,
I’m about measurement, you know. I’m not about politics. I never participate in politics. I do vote. But I believe that we must
engage in politics, wherever we’re from, if we’re going
to achieve our goal of being its goal, which is to advance society. I believe that the major barrier to advancing
society today is not concepts. It’s not knowing what to do. It’s not good policy recommendations. It’s politics. And that’s why I was pulled kicking and
screaming into looking at this question. And so let me tell you a story
about my journey here. It’s a story mostly about America because I’ve been deeply involved in
work about America for the last six years, when Harvard Business School took on
a major project on US competitiveness. Because we saw some very
frightening trends in the US economy that had been building for quite some time, that were undermining our growth and that were creating this
growing divergence between, you know, lower income,
higher income, high skill, low skill, small business, big business, and we felt, as a academic
institution based in America, that we had a responsibility
to engage in this issue. So I started down this path of
looking at U.S. competitiveness. And as I went through that journey, by the end of that journey,
I came to the conclusion, we know exactly what to do
to restore American competitiveness. We know exactly what to do to start
on the path of reversing inequality, we know what to do. We’re just not doing it. And not only that, we haven’t
been doing it for decades. And that doesn’t only apply
to economic policy it also applies to many of the
most important social issues we have to address and social
agendas like health care. Like gun violence. Like public education. We’ve lost the capacity to progress. We’re spinning. We’re not going anywhere. Now, fortunately for the rest of the world, many of your countries are doing
much better than the United States. You are making progress. One of the problems we
have in the United States, it’s our lack of progress
compared to the fact that many other countries are doing
forward thinking policy agendas. So, other countries
are doing a little bit better. And I’d like you to think
about your own country and whatever level of success
you feel like you’re having, in terms of moving the ball
forward in the society, dealing with the important issues, you know, kind of resolving
the issues in a positive way and coming up with solutions that will
actually move the country forward, your country forward. All of you are going to be
in a little different place. But I’d like to tell a story about America because I think we’re kind of, at a very,
very pivotal moment in our history and it’s leading to an America
that I don’t even recognize. And I think at the core of it, Most of the time. And I think at the core of it,
is not policy ideas, it’s not knowing what to do, it’s not even the private sector. We have an enormous engagement
in the private sector in America in philanthropy, in social issues,
in social entrepreneurship. Businesses are working harder than ever to try to move the needle forward in so many ways on social issues. But we’re stuck and I think
fundamentally we’re stuck because of politics. But most of us have really not
thought very hard about politics, you know, we kind of think enough
about it to get frustrated. But what’s going on here? The American republic was a politican innovation of
immense proportions in the world. Our political system has been
extremely innovative over the years, in driving agenda, after agenda,
after agenda. You know, starting from universal
public education to, you know, interstate highway system, to massively good infrastructure, to all kinds of things spit out
of our political system that were incredibly important to the progress and success that the
country has had over the years. But now we’ve come to a screeching halt and we’ve had this staggering election that none of us can believe. Except the people that have
had completely lost trust with this whole institution called politics and how we resolve and
advance issues in America. So, let’s talk a little bit about
my journey very briefly, kind of the reasons why I think
this is the first order issue now. And then we’ll talk a little bit about what the work that we’ve done now on
political system is starting to reveal. What it suggests in terms of what
we need to do about that. And I will tell you that, what I would say, that every one of us in this room,
particularly all of us Americans in this room, but probably many more, because I think a lot of the things
I’m going to be talking about there’s echoes of them all over. And there has been historically, this picture, this movie has played
itself in many other countries. I believe now every one of us has to engage in our political system. Rather than the tendency over the last, you know, 10 or 20 years I find,
for people like us to disengage. And just let it go because we
think it’s kind of a natural thing, it’s going to just take care of itself.
No, no, no, no, no. That’s what I’d like to talk about
today and it’s very scary. Because I think we have a good insight into, I think, what’s going on, I hope, you’ll tell me. I think we’re starting to understand
what we need to do. But it’s something that we haven’t really done and I think it’s our next big agenda, if what we want to do is advance society in the societies in which we live and work. So, in terms of development advancing society, we know that there is really two big buckets. One is economic development. How to boost prosperity. We’ve importantly understood that economic development is
not just about the average GDP. It’s also about improving
the distribution of GDP, having prosperity that is shared, this whole issue of inequality has taught us that when we think about economic development we have to open up our thinking a little
bit beyond the traditional models. But we also know, and this is something that I personally have been
very deeply involved in with my colleagues from
social progress initiative, we also understand that it’s
not just economic development we have to go beyond just
economic development, we have to think about social progress. And some of you, hopefully many of you, are aware of the social progress
imperative, and the social progress index, and the work we’ve done to try to capture, how do we measure success beyond
just economic success, beyond GDP? How do we measure kind of
whether the society’s getting better, whether citizens have a better life
and a better sense of opportunity? In terms of how this all works, I think traditionally the view is if we can
just get economic development to succeed and have more income,
then the social stuff takes care of itself. What we’ve learned and what I think all of you
would know is, no, it doesn’t work that way. Yes, economic success helps provide resources and the environment for social
progress but it doesn’t determine it, there’s a big gap between the left
and the right here of the chart. So it’s not just an arrow pointing that way, it’s also an arrow pointing that way. We know that if we can’t move
ahead on social progress in areas like education and many others, then ultimately it’s going to constrain our ability to economically develop our society and provide a shared prosperity for all citizens. And this two way relationship between
economic development and social progress is something that we are deeply engaged in and we will continue to be deeply
engaged in for the foreseeable future because in a sense it’s a whole new chapter of thinking about economic
development and social development. We’ve got to see how these two fit together. As we as we think about social progress, society and economic development
and social progress, let me tell very briefly
the story of America here. Updated till today. And as I tell that story, I’m telling the story not to repeat
things that you already know but simply to lay the groundwork why I
think we have to add this new dimension to our thinking that I talked about a bit ago. So, on the economic development
side this is familiar ground. I think most, well, many of the people in
this room are not economic developers, but I think you’re all familiar with the
thinking about economic development. Increasingly we understand
that economic development requires that we enhance competitiveness. Competitiveness is when firms based
in an economy can compete, both domestically and internationally, but also citizens are able to enjoy
a high and rising standard of living. We now understand that
economic development is both. It’s not just firms, it’s not just about
companies, it’s also about citizens, and true competitiveness is when we
can advance both firms and citizens. It is not a contest. It’s an ultimate synergy, we’re successful
if both firms and citizens can win. If only one wins, we fail. We understand that in order
to create successful economic develop we have to improve productivity. Unless you’re more productive
you can’t support a higher income. That’s just the iron law of the
modern market economy. And so we need to drive productivity growth. We not only have to make the workers
that are already working productive, but we’ve got to create an environment where all the people that want to work of
working age can be part of the workforce. We want as many people
working as want to work and working productively so that that allows the
productivity of the entire economy to go up. Again, this is kind of economic
development core concepts. We also know that productivity
and the ability to grow productivity depends on the quality of the business
environment that we create in a society. It depends on the composition of the economy and something called clusters,
which I won’t try to cover today, but is a kind of a critical new dimension
to economic development. It’s building concentrations of
businesses in particular fields where we can actually have a critical mass. And also, productivity depends on firms and you can’t have a productive economy
unless the companies are productive, unless they’re using modern,
sophisticated techniques to manage and set strategy and run their
supply chains and all of that. All of this is kind of core
economic development thinking. We at Harvard Business School
applied all this thinking to the United States of America, starting about six years ago. And the reason that we
got concerned about this is if you looked at a variety of measures that really capture economic
progress and economic success we found some truly chilling data. And this is one of them. America has traditionally been
a highly productive economy. We’ve had an ability to grow
productivity very, very rapidly, but if you look at what’s been happening, except for a few exceptional
periods in the past, we’ve seen a kind of continued slide in the productivity growth
in the American economy. We’ve never seen this before. All the experts are puzzled.
What’s going on? You’ve all heard about job growth, job growth
in America used to be like a clock, you know. 2% job growth every year, it happened for
decade, after decade, after decade, after decade. This chart doesn’t… I left out that chart I had to cut a lot of
the wonderful things I’d like to show you, but job growth has slowed down. Now, if you read the New York Times it’ll
say that we have low unemployment rate but we actually don’t. Because what we’re doing is, we’re only measuring the people
that are actively looking for jobs and what we have now is
a historic, in the last decades, decline in the number of
people even trying to work. Of working age.
They’re just not involved. They’ve given up. So, our real unemployment
rate is closer to 10%. Not so-called 4.7. You know, there’s been this sense
that we’re having a recovery and there’s lots of indicators that say we’re
not really having a recovery in America, we’re just bumping along, bumping along. Workforce participation is one of
those staggering trends that we now see, and you see that
didn’t start in the financial crisis, that started well before, that started in 1997. As we look at all the data on America a lot of
things started in 1997, 1995, 1999, 2000. Things started moving in the wrong
direction about 20 years ago, 10 to 20 years ago in the American economy. Income growth, historically incomes used
to grow in America, these are real incomes, that’s why the numbers look a little low. Real income growth, historically
you can see from 1967 in 1997 all classes of incomes grew income in America, but then if you look in this case in 1999 we see this fundamental
break in a long term trend. All of a sudden incomes are not growing they’re actually declining, that’s not just the poor people,
that’s the middle income people, that’s the 90th percentile, has not grown
real income since 1999. Wow. The 1% maybe has grown a little income but even the 1% is bouncing up and down wildly. They’ve got a lot of money so
we don’t feel sorry for them but it’s not going in the direction
that we’re used to having it going. As we look at the US economy we’re seeing something that other
economies have seen as well. We’re seeing sort of
a bifurcation of the economy. If you’re a highly skilled professional,
you’re doing well. There’s lots of opportunity
for people like that, they’re clamoring for people that that can do computer science or you know, have MBA’s from top
schools or whatever, okay? If you’re middle and lower
skilled you’re struggling. It’s the same America, okay? This is true in a lot of different countries. We’re also seeing that if
you are a large multinational, you’re doing quite well. American multinationals
have done quite well, you know, for decades, and
they’re still doing quite well. But if you’re a small business,
just doing business in America it’s really tough, really tough. Some of those small business people got a
little more optimistic when Mr T. was elected. But their optimism is starting to fade again and now they’re feeling more pessimistic again,
they’re not investing, they’re not hiring. The job generation in America today
is mostly by the larger companies. Staggering, for our economy.
It’s just not the way it’s worked. This is why we, at the school, we
were so concerned about this. There’s some really successful
high tech startups. It turns out that almost all the high tech startups
in America come from like 10 zip codes. Elsewhere in the country, there’s more firms dying than
there are firms being created. So the economic trajectory in the US
has gotten onto a very different path. At HBS we love matrices and this is one that we did a survey
of all of our HBS Alumni, thousands of them all around the world, and many of them in
senior management positions. And this was kind of their assessment of where the US stood in terms
of strengths and weaknesses, for purposes of thinking
about competitiveness. And the good news is that there’s
these wonderful green things. So up in the upper right hand corner, I was hoping to use the laser
pointer but I can’t find it. The stuff up in the upper right hand corner, we have strengths in America. And they’re pretty robust,
they’re being sustained. But stuff that used to be strengths
is falling into the weakness category. And stuff that’s fallen into the weakness
category, some of it is eroding so rapidly that it’s deteriorating, so
we’re weak and deteriorating. You know, public education,
there’s lots of measures. Our PISA scores, every time,
are lower than they were before. Whereas most of the countries
that are here, are not Americans, your PISA scores are going up,
or a lot of them are. And you can sort of look at the
things in the red zone there. By the way, note the biggest weakness, identified by our alumni,
they saw this before we did. They said our biggest
weakness is our political system. Our biggest weakness is our political system. And if we don’t pay attention to that, we’re going to be having trouble fixing this. Out of this work at HBS,
we had a team of faculty and we sat down and we
developed an action plan. What do we do in America
to change the tide here? What are the priorities? What are the things we could do soon
that would have a big impact? That would have an impact fairly soon,
not 20 years from now? And we came up with, what we call
affectionately, the eight point plan. There they are. If you go downthat list all these
things are pretty self-evident. Okay, we’ve got to fix
our corporate tax system, we have the highest, you know, corporate tax
in the world for any advanced country. We are a total outlier in our tax system. The last time we reformed our tax code in
America, for corporations, were 30 years ago. Other countries have been
refining their tax codes. We’re now way out of whack. We’ve got to fix this, and so on. You know what we found? We surveyed our alumni and said,
do you agree with these things? And they said, yeah,
overwhelmingly, 80%, 90%. Then we tried something that we’d never
done before, we surveyed the general public. We said, what do you think, general public,
does this make sense to you? And you know, in general they said, yes. 75% of the general public were
for corporate tax reform. Because they understood, they’d figured out, that the reason we have tax inversions is because we’re out of sync. And they don’t want their company to be
bought by a, you know, foreign company. They think we can do
perfectly well as Americans. So, a lot of consensus about this. And then, the faithful recognition came, that if we looked at these eight things. First of all, there’s endless discussion of all these things in America.
Everything here. But you know what? We’ve had no significant progress on any of them in at least 20 years. Nothing. No meaningful tax reform,
no meaningful budget reform, no meaningful infrastructure advancement, no meaningful regulatory streamlining, which every country needs
to do every so often. Nothing. And this is when I started feeling, look, we did all this work, it doesn’t matter. Nothing’s happening. The problem isn’t what to do. The problem isn’t not even having
a consensus on what to do. The problem is somewhere else. It has to be on the process by which
we get things done in the society. And what’s that process? Well, luckily, a lot of the things in our
society we can do in the private sector. And the private sector’s trying really hard, but unfortunately we need
government to get things done. And we’re not getting anything done. So why is that? The same issues really
apply to social progress. You all hopefully know
about social progress index. These slides will be posted,
I’ll cover this very quickly. But you know, the question
is how do we measure whether our society is progressing
on the non-economic dimensions? Now some of them relate to the economic, but these are non economic things that have to do with people’s capabilities,
their well-being, their quality of life and whether they are living in
a society that’s a healthy society that allows people to,
you know, achieve opportunity, and live the way they want,
and make their own choices. And this framework is kind
of the overall architecture of the social progress index
in these three buckets and the actual index itself is based on 54, you know, hard data indicators of how a society is doing on all of these areas. And again, we’ve presented that before.
The 2017 version, which we’re very proud of, will be
issued next month, in about a month. So, this is the ‘16 ranking,
this is the top 50 countries. And you can look down the list,
you’re not going to maybe be shocked by any of the countries in the left hand side, and how they’re different from
the ones on the right hand side. The one thing I want you to just
note is where’s the US? We’re not even in the first column,
on social progress. Now, how do Americans think about themselves. Oh my gosh, you know, we were a pioneer on all kinds of social areas. You know, we think of ourselves
as leaders on social progress. But it turned out that when
we had data to look at it, and this is all recent statistics. Now, if we could measure American social
progress in the year 1950 it would be very different, and so would all the other countries. But today we’re not doing so well. And if we if we kind of look at
how the world is doing, this is just a quick point I want to make. This data says, what if all the countries
in the world were the world, if we added up all the scores
for all the countries and looked at how the world
is doing on all these measures, how’s the world doing? And what we found very
interesting about this exercise was, look at where
the world’s doing the worst. It’s all what we call opportunity. Personal rights. Tolerance and inclusion. And as you’ll see, the US isn’t
doing well there either, even though we were supposed to be the place
where there was all the rights and freedoms. If you compare the US to
the other countries in the G7, you know, we’re number 4 or 5 in income, but we’re number 19 on social progress,
we’re an under performer. We’re not using our wealth productively to (inaudible) society in the US, compared to other countries. We are laggard among advanced
economies, not a leader. It’s not the way Americans
think about themselves. We have this pathological view
that we’re good and leaders. And here we’re not so good. And this was one of the very striking
findings of the social progress work and we’ve identified a lot of other
interesting findings as well, which hopefully you will read about. This is impossible to read but this takes all the 54 indicators, all of the 54 under the buckets, and says, how are we doing in the US,
compared to our economic peers? These are the 15 countries closest to the US in terms of income, GDP per capita, okay? A sort of peer to peer comparison. And red means we’re significantly
behind, the peers. Yellow means we’re “eh”. And green means we’re actually better. Not much green. Fair amount of yellow. A lot of red, okay? And if you take the reds and look at the greatest weaknesses
in the US on social progress you get this list on the left side. Now, let’s think about how much
progress we’re making on those issues. What just happened in health care in America? We’ve had a 15 year guerrilla war
to not do anything. And we just went through another
episode of that particular guerrilla war. In environmental policy we’re still debating climate change and all kinds of other stuff. In education reform we’re still nowhere. We’re stalled. On, you know, gun violence we’re stalled. We’ve got people thinking that
they have a perfect right and they should be able to have automatic
weapons any time they want. And we’ve got other people who think that,
well, nobody should ever have a gun ever again. Only the police. And we’re just getting nowhere.
We’re just stuck. On this this debate between people
that have very different views. And of course,
the staggering thing for America is this problem in terms of
tolerance and inclusion and, you know, look at the dialogue we’re
having on immigration and on immigrants. You know, look at the dialogue we’re having
in so many areas around our fellow citizens. And who’s to blame and who’s the enemy?
You know, race. We’re not making any progress, not as much progress as we could
and should, on race, racial relations. How can we actually have a
productive dialogue about that? It’s not the police versus the community
or the community versus the police. It’s, you know, we’re all citizens
of United States American and we should start pragmatically thinking
about, what are the solutions here, what can we actually get done? And yet we seem stuck on
that discussion as well. So, you can see, as somebody who’s
been deeply immersed in policy and agendas for the country, boy, this is really, really depressing. Because what it says is all
this research we’ve done, and all this policy work, and all this data, and all this advancement in thinking, nothing’s happening, it’s useless.
Doesn’t matter. So at this point,
couldn’t avoid it any longer. Why can’t we get anything done? What’s wrong? And this is not just Washington,
it’s also the states, we have a lot of states that
are completely stuck as well. Gridlocked, polarized,
citizen against citizen. And, you know, we came to the conclusion
that the political system is our biggest problem. So if it’s our biggest problem we better get busy,
we better dig in, we better look at it. Wasn’t always this way too, that’s another thing. America had a pretty productive political
system, historically, but now we’re just stuck. I don’t mean to be negative here
or demeaning to anybody, but America feels like
a third world country now. Where the tribes are fighting
against each other. And the net result is, we can’t be productive, we can’t have a productive society,
we can’t move ahead. And I’m not blaming any third
world countries for that, they’ve got a lot of challenges,
they create that structure. But in an advanced economy
like the United States, how could that be happening to us? So we started looking at the political
system in the United States of America and this has been a really interesting and in some ways very sobering exercise. How do we see the political system? And the first thing I would tell you is what
we found is Washington isn’t broken. The results we’re getting is exactly
the results that it’s designed to deliver. Washington and our political system
is not designed to deliver solutions. In fact it’s designed not to deliver solutions. Because if we solve a problem the political actors lose. They lose support they lose partisan
supporters, they lose donations. Our system is not designed
to deliver solutions. It’s actually designed to advance the interest of the system itself, of the actors, starting with our political parties. I don’t believe that parties
are bad inherently. I don’t believe that anybody in America
that’s in the political system is evil but we’ve allowed ourselves to be
caught in a system that is failing. Where the system is delivering
in a way that benefits the system but not the public interest. There is no accountability. We have an example in the paper that that will be published,
hopefully in the next few weeks, of Simpson-Bowles, I don’t know if
you all remember Simpson-Bowles. Simpson-Bowles was
an effort to build a consensus and a compromise around the budget. And it was a great compromise, it was fair it took into account
everybody’s points of view, and the Commission put out their report,
and then it died. Obama, President Obama
created the Commission but he walked away from the solution. Paul Ryan was on the Commission and he walked away from
the solution and wouldn’t vote. And here was the accountability, President Obama got re-elected and Ryan got to be Speaker of the House. No accountability. Nobody’s holding our
political system accountable for the results it’s actually able to achieve. There’s no regulation, there’s nobody
looking out for the public interest, there’s no regulator of the political system, whatever they do they just decide to do.
There’s no regulation and the other thing that
you probably may know but the political system is thriving. The parties are booming,
spending is growing. The incomes and influence of the people
that work in the political processes, they have lots of more opportunity
now they’ve ever had before. Lobbying is hugely expanded.
The media are just literally ecstatic about how things are going because
it’s been so good for them. In terms of people watching TV and, you know, participating online
in the political dialogue. We’ve got a structural problem. We’ve allowed the political system
to be designed in a way that’s not aligned with the public interests. We didn’t do it deliberately. It snuck up on us. The actors in the political system created a lot of rules and practices that have created
the situation we are in today. It’s a structural problem. Almost nothing about our political system in
America is mentioned in the Constitution. There’s nothing in the Constitution
about partisan primaries, there is nothing in the Constitution about how
you structure the Senate and the House, in terms of who the committee chairs are are and what powers they have
to take votes or not take votes. All that has been created
by the actors in the system. And the actors in the system have been very good at creating a system
that works for them. But not for us. So, let us spend just a little more time and
then I know we have to open up for questions. What do we want the political
system to achieve? What we want is good results. What we want is solutions to problems, the problems that matter. We want to move forward. We want the political system to sift
and sort the legitimate viewpoints of lots of different people in our society,
we’re a democracy. And no issue is simple. Ideology is never correct. Ideology is never correct, it’s never big
government or small government, it’s never free trade or protectionism. The ideological answer is always wrong and the reality and the real
answer is always a blend, it’s always a synthesis, it’s always a
search for blending and integrating the real complexity of the real
issues and the real influences on what we need to do with society. That’s what we want our
political system to do. If somebody else doesn’t agree with us,
that doesn’t mean we can ignore them. In a good political system the interest of our
citizens need to be taken into consideration and our system in America used
to be pretty good at that. Sorting out the points of view
and helping people, you know, creating reconciliation. We had a Congress that was
pretty good at working together and collaborating to do that. A good political system in
inevitably has to involve the search for common ground
and the need for compromise. It’s the only way for it actually to work, and again, America was pretty good at that. But today it’s not the way we
operate in politics in America. It is all about ideology, it’s all about, forgive me here, ridiculous party platforms that are full of platitudes and ideology. A lot of false promises that will never be kept. A lot of false choices, either/or choices, that really aren’t
even either/or choices. It’s always a blend, it’s always a synthesis. Our political system is all about dividing us and the parties want to divide us because that makes us supporters of
that party, that makes us loyal, that makes us vote for what
the party wants us to vote. It’s not about solutions. It’s not about moving the ball. It’s not about finding the common
ground and moving on that. In fact, in today’s political system, even where there’s common
ground, it doesn’t get done, because the party mindset and
the political mindset now is, if you even show any hint of
compromise on anything, you get tagged as not, you know,
a real loyal party supporter. 51:10] And I could give you
hundreds of examples here, even where we agree we don’t do things because of the nature of the political
rivalry that we’ve created. You know, one of
the consequences of the way the political system in America has been
structured is there’s no more moderates. They don’t exist. And the ones that are still left, quit, they give up. Some of our most distinguished political leaders
in America, in both the House and the Senate, over the last 15 years, have literally quit. I don’t want to do this anymore, it’s not getting us anywhere,
this is not why I ran for election. What has caused this polarization? Why do we not have any moderates anymore? What’s going on? That’s a fascinating question. And to answer that question we have to think about the
political system as an industry. And you know, everybody here, you know,
you’re going to boo or something, here. But this is an industry. This is not public,
this is not a public institution, this is an institution consisting of
private gain seeking actors. None of this is specified in
the law or the constitution. There’s no independent regulator that makes
sure that this serves the public interest. It’s an industry, it’s about a 30 billion dollar
industry at this point. That’s how much money is flowing in this area and that’s not just donations. Don’t think of that money as just bad
money that’s trying to influence votes, think of it also, it’s just all the
money to pay for all these people that are doing this. We have an industry in America
where we have two dominant parties. In business we call that a duopoly. And in business thinking, a duopoly is
something that we get nervous about. Because when there’s only
two dominant competitors, and by the way, there’s not been
a new party of any significance whatsoever in America for 140 years. No new competition, ever, really. So, what we have here is an industry
with extremely high barriers to entry. It’s almost impossible. To form a new party
with a different point of view. The last time it happened was the Civil War, that’s when the Republicans were born. And the other second party died away because
it was viewed as irrelevant at that point. Hasn’t happened since. It’s almost impossible for an independent, not affiliated with one of the parties,
to actually get elected. And even if they get elected,
it’s virtually impossible for them to have any influence whatever in the House
or the Senate or the State Legislature. Because they’re not part of the party. It’s an industry. Now, again, don’t boo. I read a lot of stuff about
political competition. I read a lot of stuff here and what I found was that there’s a lot of good research
on the political system, but the ability to step back and understand the overall structure, and how it works,
and how it drives competition, this is not the kind of lens that
we’ve been using to look at politics. But if we use that lens and if we think about ,you know, who are the
customers that our political system serves? Well, let’s just take that one. Right now, the average voter has no power whatsoever in politics, none. The voters with influence are the ones, they’re primary voters, which are
the kind of rabid partisans. 10% vote in the primary,
so 10% get to decide who’s going to be on
the general election ballot. The people that give a lot of money,
and they tend to be special interests. The whole party structure and the
whole party competition is designed to sift and sort the special interests. One party has their special interests,
the other party has their special interests, and essentially what they do is is
appeal to those folks as their base. And they whip them up into a frenzy. And the primary process sorts
among the various candidates, the ones that are most
rabid and most partisan. And that’s why there’s no independents
anymore, and no moderates, and that’s the nature of the competition. Is it any wonder that
we don’t get anything done? Is it any wonder that we’re stuck? Is it any wonder that there’s no new ideas and
no new energy and no positivity in this system? And the sad answer I believe is, no. We’re getting what the system
was designed to create, but it wasn’t designed by us. It was designed by the actors in the system and we didn’t even notice. We elected these people
and they created this. Okay now, once again,
I just want to be clear, I’m not being critical here of
any individual political leader. I think most people go into
politics to do public service. But the kind of people that go in, and the races they have to run, and the process they have
to participate in to win elections, and the way we’ve organized the governing
in the Congress and the State Legislatures, ends up with a set of people that do this. They’re not bad people. But the system has been designed in a way that is giving us the result that we’ve gotten. And one final point about this is that if you look at the changes
in our political system in America over the last 20 or 30 or 40 years, it’s moved more and more
and more in this direction. It used to be different. For example, we didn’t used to have
partisan primaries in America. Most Americans probably cannot believe that. That’s just natural. Well no, it isn’t natural. Partisan primaries were created by the parties, and so were caucuses, where the person who gets on the ballot
gets decided by a small group of people that are the most rabid insiders. And the people that get on the ballot don’t have
to stand election with the average person and appeal to the average voter. Average voter doesn’t matter, in terms of who’s on the general election ballot. So what you get is two people on the
general election ballot that are extremes. And then 40% of the American people look at the
two people on the general election ballot and say, “Uh-uh, I don’t want to vote for these guys. They’re not for me.” So we have more people drop out. And as more people drop out,
who gets more power? The people who are in. Okay, this is where we are. Now, hopefully everybody’s
not completely depressed. Because we can do something about this. And what I believe is the strategy here is we’re going to have
to take some critical steps to take back our democracy and to make it work for us. And this slide talks about what those
key steps are. Again, I’m out of time. Probably negative time. The most powerful single thing is
to get rid of partisan primaries. So there’s one primary, anybody can run, the top two or four vote getters get
to go to the general election. That means that people that are
going to get through the primary are going to have to appeal to
a pretty good base of people. They’re not just appealing to the 10% of
the Republicans who vote or Democrats. Is that a pipe dream? Well, two states in America, California and Washington, have kicked out partisan primaries and moved to the non-partisan primary, okay? And they did it through ballot initiatives. If we can get more and more
states moving in this direction it will change everything. We won’t have partisanship in
anything like the way we do today. We won’t have this bitter
ugly negative dialogue. You know, gerrymandering is playing around with the congressional districts
to create safe seats. Now, 90% of all the seats in the
House of Representatives are safe, that is, it’s impossible for the other side to win. So that means that the person who
wins the primary wins the general. We’ve got to change that. The parties now control
the legislative process. To get voted on, not who wins, to get voted on in the Congress you know who decides what gets voted on? The party leaders of the party in power. You could have the best idea in the
world that you could actually pass, but unless the party leaders put it up
for a vote it doesn’t even get voted on. We’ve allowed the governing rules in the Congress to be captured by politicians, by party people. Not by what’s fair, what’s democratic, you know, any reasonable
bill deserves a vote, a vote on the record, things like that,
that’s all been controlled. So we’ve got to change
that legislative process. That’s not going be easy but there’s
some good strategies for doing that. There’s a lot of loopholes in fund raising. Fund raising per se is not
the fundamental problem, we think even without Citizens United
we’d still have this problem. There’s a lot of good ideas out there, like term limits and things like that,
that people talk about, or giving people better civics education, there’s all kinds of proposals
for political reform. But what we have to understand is the
proposals that will really make a difference are the proposals that are
fundamentally changing the structure of the political competition
that I talked about earlier. And the problem with term limits
is it doesn’t really change that. That’s not the problem. The problem is the primary system,
the problem is the governing system, the problem is the fund raising system,
the problem is those problems. We’ve got to get to the root cause problems. In the short run, is we’re
getting the hard stuff done, we’ve got to get more independents elected. And there’s some really nice things now being built to create infrastructure and
to help independents and moderates get over those barriers to entry. Because right now,
the party’s got them by the throat, the party controls the money, the party controls the blessing of
all the party infrastructure, the vote getting exercises, all the voter data,
all that’s captured by the party, we’ve got to create an offset, we’ve
got to create a vehicle for a third way in the election process. Now, I want to just take one
more second on this last point. So many of us in this room believe deeply in philanthropy
and social change. And I believe that we need
to keep doing that and that’s one of the things that makes
America great, it makes other societies great, it’s one of the reasons why I always
am so excited to come here. Because I’m normally, you know, dealing
with a bunch of, you know, business people that are just talking about, you know,
how to make a profit, okay? Very excited to be in this group and I know
a lot of you are business people too. I love business people by the way. Because I think business can change the world, if it thinks about changing
the world through its business. But, you know, we’ve got to see that
there’s another kind of philanthropy that most of us haven’t even thought about. And that’s what you might
call political philanthropy. I mean, you know, there’s so much giving
that’s going on in our country, but if you add up all the philanthropy in America, I think it’s about 400 billion dollars a year, I think it takes the federal government to spend 400 billion dollars in 3 weeks. And it takes a state government maybe, a big state government,
it takes the state government to spend 400 billion dollars maybe in 13 weeks. What point am I making? The point is that unless we can get our
public government structure to work, unless we can get all those
public resources directed in the things that matter for our society, we’re not going to offset that
with private philanthropy, trying to solve those problems ourselves. We’ve got to fundamentally
get our government to work. I think that’s what I have come to understand. I never thought that government was
important, I thought it was a sideshow, you know, but it’s not. We don’t need government to necessarily,
you know, run social institutions, but we need government to make good choices and support and encourage and then send the right steps and the right behavior that we need to move society forward. And in every field that we represent in this room, you’re all in a lot different fields, and
those are all different in different fields. But we have to have a governmental process that allows us to really put our weight
and our energy behind those things. And we can’t just say, oh well,
we’ll just give privately and we’ll just ignore government. And I think what I’ve come to believe
at this moment in history is I’ve got to devote a lot of
my energy to this issue. And I think we’re going start
to understand how to do that, we’re going to start to understand
how to start moving this rather than just throw up our hands and saying,
oh, this is the way it’s always going to be. We can change the way
the political systems work but it’s not going to happen naturally, it’s not going to happen spontaneously,
it’s not self correcting. Because it is all baked into structural choices and rules and processes that
have been put in place, without our even knowing about it. So let me let me thank you for
letting me go a little bit over. Hopefully this is something that we can now build into the Skoll dialogue. And you know, I think over the last day or two, we’ve had a lot of discussions
about a lot of the symptoms here but actually they’re symptoms. Populism is a symptom, hate speech is a symptom, divisiveness is a symptom. We don’t have to throw up our hands and talk in very general terms about, how
do we be nicer to each other, you know? I think we have to start
understanding, what is underlying the dialogue, the behavior, the things that we’re seeing
in the world right now, and what do we actually do to actually
get in there and change that? So with that, thank you very much
and we’ll open it up for discussion. Well I told you and warned
you it would be provocative. So, I’m going to push you just for
a second out of your comfort zone. Okay. I can’t get any farther out of my comfort zone. Just a little bit of a postscript. So, since the 2010 Tea Party wave there’s been a steady upward trend as you sort of alluded to in
re-electing House members, and as you noticed and noted, Congress has really gotten more bitterly
divided and, frankly, less productive. So, just bear with me on a couple of geeky
numbers here just to help with the context. So, when the Tea Party wave happened in 2010, the previous re-election rate of House members
had been 94 but it dropped down to 85%. Immediately there was redistricting. 2012, it was 90% re-election rate
for House members who ran. 2014, 95%, and this past November, 97%. And the Senate has stayed above
80% every cycle since 2008. So what, with all of that in mind,
is the citizen responsibility and how does change happen
if there’s just this pattern of, oh, I don’t like my Congressman, except,
my Congressman is okay, it’s all the others? Yeah, well you know, I think at some level we’ve got to have the public start understanding that this structure of government
is not working for us. And even when we think it is, it really isn’t. And you know, unfortunately so many— and I’m a Massachusetts Republican which is like a Kiwi extinct species, you know, but so I’m, you know, pre-censorious. But we’ve got to understand that if we’re
Republican or Democrat it doesn’t matter. We may think we’re scoring some points or we’re winning some battles, but ultimately we’re losing the war. The war of moving America forward and as long as we have the inherent premises, and the inherent processes,
and the inherent thoughts, about what we want our
political system to look like, we’re not going to change that. So I think the first thing we have
to get Americans to understand, and any other country that has these issues, is that the system actually isn’t working for us, even if we won control. The Democrats won control, you know,
at the beginning of Obama. Didn’t help, not much happened,
it was a stalemate. The Republicans just won control. Time will tell, my prediction,
not much will happen. Trump is an outsider but, you know, what we’re going to find is, he’s going to have
a tremendous problem getting anything done. Even as, you know, irreverent as he is. And so, I think Americans have
to come to that realization that this isn’t working for us and then they have to start
thinking that this is not natural. That what we see here today
is not just what it is. We have too often the idea
that it’s like fish being in water, you don’t notice in water, you know? And we sort of have gotten used to this and we can’t allow this to be normal. And then we have to start educating ourselves about what are the critical steps that
would actually make a difference? And there is a substantial political reform
movement popping up all over America. More and more resources
are pouring into this area. More and more philanthropists
are starting to look at this, because it’s starting to dawn on
many of them, and many of us, that that we’ve got to take this issue on. So it’s taken a long time
to kind of get to the level that this is the first order issue, but I think we’re there now and hopefully
the Trump election was sufficiently— I’d just hate to use a word, I don’t want
to offend everybody or anybody— but that we’re in a sufficiently
distressed situation. That this is actually something we’ve got
to do something about, pay attention. So, Edith, I didn’t quite answer your
question but I did the best I could. Okay. And so probably to set up the audience, why don’t you talk a little bit about what
role business can play in all this? Because you alluded to Citizens United,
the Supreme Court decision, which sort of very simply loosened
the restrictions on donations, and we don’t have time to get into all
the nuances, but the role of business. Yeah. Well, I think the role of business, business has taken two tracks
on political involvement. One track is dropping out. A lot of business leaders that I work with,
don’t want anything to do with this, they don’t see any way to win,
they see it as a lose, they hunker down, they keep their profile low, they might give a little political donations, but those donations are mostly just
so that people will talk to them. So they can make their case
for avoiding bad things. That’s the best of the bad business response. The worst business response
is businesses understood that this is a game where the special
interest are the most powerful customer. And so business has turned
into a special interest. And they’ve learned how to play the game. And unfortunately, a lot of
industries have massive budgets for lobbying and political action, and a lot of the people on the
House healthcare committee— I’m just making it up, there is no House,
but the committee that covered— a lot of the people that area, work in the industry when they retire. And we have sort of this revolving door between political leaders and the industries in which they’ve been asked
to regulate and provide, and if they’re nice to the industry they get a job. So, we have we have these two ways in which the business community has responded and unfortunately, you know,
shame on us as a business community. The business community has not taken this on. I think the business community
is hopefully going to be sufficiently interested now in the direction that our country
is going in, that’s sufficiently bad, that we’ll see a change in track. One of my major goals with this work, and the paper that will be published, there was a short three page
version in Fortune magazine about three or four weeks ago, so that’s a little kind of summary. One of my major focuses here
is on the business community because I think we need
the business community to play the role, their traditional
role, a more traditional role of trying to be a sort of force to move this system in another direction. But I’m not going hold my breath because it’s very scary for
a business person to not, you know, kind of be nice to the parties, and so we’ll see. But I’m hopeful the business
community will understand that the way we have been doing it isn’t
working, it is not working for business. Business wants tax reform, business wants infrastructure reform, business wants health care reform, business wants all the stuff
that isn’t happening too. And hopefully business
leaders will start to realize that we just can’t play this game anymore, we’ve got to realize that
we have to change it. Time will tell. All right, with that,
let’s go to your questions and there are microphones,
but you in the third row there. You, yeah. Pass the mic down there. Hello Professor. My name’s Danny and
I am a PhD student in politics. Oh yes, good Perfect. He’s going to make me look like softball. I’ve read a lot of the literature in politics, yeah. I’ve a critique and a question for you. One, you allude several times in
many of the things you say about, we know exactly what to do, we all agree. I’m certainly sympathetic to,
I believe, your political opinions and I think most of the room is as well, but I think we have to
confront potentially reality, that most, many people, not just in
United States, but also around the world, are not in agreement with what
constitutes social progress, and that what we think is progress really isn’t. If you have ideas to deal with that? And secondly, a question about what I uess we could call future shock,
which I’m sure you’re familiar with, but an idea of political future shock where society is so much more nimble and businesses, and technology,
and democratization of information, is so much more nimble
than government institutions, that is there maybe a natural speed
limit for how fast society can progress? Because I think that’s obviously
what you said we’re all here for. Yeah. Well, those are excellent points. I mean, there is a large school of
thought that says that it’s not politics that’s causal but it’s just
the fracturing of citizens. And we are, you know, we are
becoming tribal, you know, even in our advanced economies. I am less convinced by that argument, I think that a lot of the
divisiveness and disagreement and, you know, inability
to have any, you know, serious open mind about anything
has really been taught to us. That the kind of nature of the political
dialogue, and what our political leaders say, and how they operate and how they act, and all those e-mails they’re sending
every two days during the election. And that whole process has in a sense taught us to have a ineffective and, you know, not based on fact kind of discussion in society. And there’s just so many lies
and so much fake stuff and there’s so many false choices that get posed. And now with the media changing, I mean, we used to have a much
more independent media, if you go back 20 or 30 years, and now the media, unfortunately,
a lot of the media—not Edith, by the way— but a lot of the media is aligning
with one side or the other. And if you look at what
happened in this last election and how much advertising
money poured into the media, for all these shows on CNN
and CSNBC and Fox and all these people,
and it was all the same stuff. It was, oh, these guys are the enemy,
they’re crazy, they’re wrong, this is wrong, this is wrong,
this is bad, this is bad. So I think right now, I am not clear that citizens are the root cause. I think citizens are not always that well educated but I think a lot of the beliefs that people have have been shaped by what they’ve
heard and what they’ve been taught. And so I’m hopeful that if we had
a different kind of political process where the two people contesting in the election
were both moderates or centrist. They were on the hook and defined success
as getting something done. They were willing to compromise
if they were good arguments. That we would have a very different
dialogue and a very different discussion, and I think we might be able
to make much more progress. But again, this is an issue which we’re
going to need to ponder and study and work on for years to come. This is just as complicated
as economic development or, you know, social progress
and there’s a lot of complexity. One of the things I said
and I want to say it again, there’s no simple answer to any of the
important issues facing our society. We are very pressed for time so we’re going to ask for the
lady here in the third row, and then the gentleman with
his hand in the fifth row. And I apologize to the back,
the lights are kind of blinding, but let’s tackle these two and then we’ll
see where we are for time. Please. Well first, thank you, Professor Porter, this was both very depressing
and very inspiring. Thank you for that second part. Well, I do think that there’s a wake up call
that’s going on in America with citizens. I’m a recovering investigative
reporter who left journalism and is now looking at stories about
companies doing things right. Who’s doing it, you know, business
for good, and it’s a movement. You said business can change the world, and that you love business, and that business is working harder than
ever to move the needle on social issues. When I did a Nieman fellowship at Harvard, one of the things that I had been
marinating on for 15 years, and I realize it’s heretical to say it, but what if business had linked prosperity? And, you know, kind of what Ben and Jerry’s
did before they got bought out, where the lowest paid worker
on the factory floor couldn’t make less than nine
times the CEO, whatever. I mean, I think the most challenging thing
in America and in the world right now is the chasm between rich and poor. And so if there was a leveling,
I mean, think of all the money, I mean, why does a CEO have to make, you know, take a 15 million dollar bonus and be firing people in the
factory at the same time? Well, I think that’s a sensational question. And I think that the kind of market system, and the investor and the shareholder
pressures, and all those things, have pushed business to see beyond, in a way, its own self-interest. And I think the paying your lower wage workers a salary that doesn’t allow them to live, just doesn’t make sense for the company. And you have massive turnover
and you have people that, you know, can’t do their job,
and are not good on the front line, and are not able to engage and provide
good support and service to your customers. And I think that tide is starting to turn. We have a lot of companies voluntarily
raising income, I mean, even Walmart. Walmart has made a stunning
transformation in its workforce practices and it’s training, it’s career development, it’s providing its employees with, you know,
a six or seven year career path, it’s raising their wages, it’s all kinds
of stuff that they’re doing. So I think we’re starting to see the
glimmer in the business community of going beyond just philanthropy,
giving money, you know, being good citizens and all that, and this notion of shared value
that I believe very deeply in that we introduced a number of years ago, I think that’s taking hold, I think it’s working its way now through lots of the behavior of companies. So, my view is, unlike the political system I think the corporate sector is
on a positive path at this point. But that said, we’ve got to hold
the business community accountable and we’ve got to keep
raising these questions. I mean, you know, why do you
need this bonus, you know, and, you know, what’s the board doing, and why should shareholders
think that’s a good idea? And I think, you know, we need
people to be well compensated, we need to recognize, you know,
how scarce and important CEO’s are, but I think I think we’ve overshot. And so I think business
is going to have to adjust, but I believe that, you know, and hopefully that’ll make things easier. But I think this political system
issue, at least in America, which I have now immersed
myself in for some time, I think we’ve got to tackle that because unless we tackle that we’re going
to have a hard time making the progress. I mean, what will be fascinating for me is, how many of you that are not Americans and you live somewhere else and
you’re in a different political system, how many echoes of what I’ve been
talking about do you perceive, and what is the structure that’s
been created in your country? I mean, when I think of the UK,
for example, I think of Brexit. That was based on lies. The citizens didn’t understand. It was Alice in Wonderland, you know,
immigrants help Britain, they don’t hurt. They did understand,
that’s why they voted that way. But they voted against
what was in their interest. So, the last question, because
the professor has a plane to catch goes to the man with the microphone.
Nigel Kershaw, Chair of the Big Issue Group, once described as a last bastion of independent
reporting in the UK by The Guardian. If The Guardian are here, thank you. Just a quick thing
Did he say he was Guardian? No, he said the BBC.
Oh, BBC, good, no, we like that. No. No, Big Issue
Oh, Big Issue, sorry. First of all, just a quick point on the
Social Progress Imperative, the SPI. Absolutely brilliant, you can separate
economic out from social outcomes because then we can really see what
we’re doing in terms of policy. We manage or advise on £150 million
of social investment funds and we can actually see where we’re
going to invest and what it does. And I think it’s an absolutely brilliant initiative,
I’m proud to be working with them Thank you. As a Brit talking about America,
can I just quote a famous Brit, who said, “A long habit of a not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right.” Tom Paine, Common Sense, 1776. Absolutely brilliant and I think
we can apply that to democracy. And I think one of the problems is,
is what we’ve done, and perhaps we have to be more
radical than what you’re saying, is because in my view there’s no point reforming a representative democracy, actually what we need to be doing is
forging a participatory democracy. And I think just making it better and making it better for people to say, “Look, trust in me, I’ll do it for you,” actually will lead to things like Mr T. and Brexit. We need to create a participatory democracy. And I would believe that citizens
in a way have withdrawn from, most citizens have withdrawn
from the political process. They’re not engaged in any productive way. Sometimes they vote, but that’s kind of it. And except for a very small number of people, that is very purposefully engaged around, you know, their
particular self interests and they don’t believe in compromise
and they don’t believe in anything else. They get up every day and this is
their life, is this issue and this interest. And you’re absolutely right, a lot of
citizens have withdrawn from democracy, we take it for granted, we just
assume that it’s a good system. And, you know, historically,
you know, it has its ups and downs, but at least in America our system
worked, you know, reasonably well. And if you look back at our
landmark legislation in America over the last 30, 40, 50 years, you know, Medicare, Civil Rights Act, and so forth, we had a huge majority vote
for those legislation. Because at the end of the day, people said, this is good for us,
you know, Democrats or Republicans. Today if you look at major legislation, you know how much it wins by,
one vote, two votes. You know, the ACA, The Affordable Care Act,
had zero Republican votes. And there’s a lot of other important legislation
that had zero Democratic votes. And we’ve kind of evolved to the place where we’ve kind of lost our way in terms of
what the purpose of democracy really is. But I think the sophistication, and the computers, and the voter data, and the media communication systems, and the social media, and all these things, have allowed the actors in the political process
who are worried about their own success, to kind of optimize and shift and migrate what politics really is. To be a very, very weak version of what,
I think most of us think it is, if you look underneath the hood here,
it’s pretty ugly. And I think we’re going to have
to take it back, I agree with you. I think part of that is participation and I think part of it is we have to
change some of the rules and practices that have been put in place that nobody intended be created. But like every other part of
society and every other business, you know, people get smart, they figure
it out, they figure out how to do it better, they figure out how to strengthen
their power, their clout, their influence, their ability to get what they want
and need from their perspective, and that’s happened in politics as well,
at least that’s the way we see it. But thank you for that,
that’s a very thoughtful comment, I really appreciate it. So, we know you have a plane to catch. Unfortunately I have a day job,
as they call it. You’re headed back to—
Tomorrow at Harvard Business School. Cold and snowy Boston.
So, thanks to the professor. He has a couple of notes
that he wanted to share. While the professor gathers his things, he
wanted me to share a couple of notes with you. The presentation slides will be,
well, they are available online and the recording will
be available next week. Both of them can be found at
www.socialprogress.org. The long form article,
“Problems Unsolved and a Nation Divided,” will be released in mid-April. So look out for that. Everyone is welcome to join a group
of international change agents convening later this month in Iceland,
that’s April 24th to 26th, for “What Works, A Global Summit
to Advance Social Progress.” And you saw the professor refer to the 2016
numbers, the 2017 Social Progress Index and latest analysis of the United States’
Social and Environmental Performance will be released next month in May. And lastly, all of you in the audience, would you be please so kind as to fill out
your survey cards before you leave the room. And with that note, again,
thank you and good evening.

2 thoughts on “Porter on Progress – Hosted by SPI #SkollWF 2017

  1. For anyone who is interested, the forthcoming report regarding Mr. Porter's research on competitiveness and politics has been postponed until September 2017.

  2. Wow – Michael Porter is a genius!  Re-conceptualising government as an industry is brilliant and so many things slot into place as soon as you do. And seeing it that way opens up the possibility of infiltrating it and changing it.

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