The Orphans of Wealth

This was a line from a 1970s song by Don McLean, that I’d posted on Facebook a while ago

“The orphans of wealth and of adequate health,
disowned by this nation they live in.”

I was reminded of it when Michaela messaged me asking if I’d post it again. At the time I’d been reading a tweet asking ‘how do you develop a social entrepreneurship  ecosystem?’

This turned out to be a link to an article which among other things described how Ashoka would be opening a School for Social Enterpreneurs in Australia.

Leveraging an academic centre for social enterprise had been a significant part of  our efforts in Ukraine and this paragraph is extracted from the strategy plan, which described how capitalism could be deployed for social purpose:

This is a long-term permanently sustainable program, the basis for “people-centered” economic development. Core focus is always on people and their needs, with neediest people having first priority – as contrasted with the eternal chase for financial profit and numbers where people, social benefit, and human well-being are often and routinely overlooked or ignored altogether. This is in keeping with the fundamental objectives of Marshall Plan: policy aimed at hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos. This is a bottom-up approach, starting with Ukraine’s poorest and most desperate citizens, rather than a “top-down” approach that might not ever benefit them. They cannot wait, particularly children. Impedance by anyone or any group of people constitutes precisely what the original Marshall Plan was dedicated to opposing. Those who suffer most, and those in greatest need, must be helped first — not secondarily, along the way or by the way.’

“Those who suffer most” had been identified earlier that year, in March 2006,  in the article ‘Death Camps, For Children‘ describing disabled children abandoned to state care, i.e. ”orphans of wealth and of adequate health’

I’d first met Terry 10 years ago in Ukraine and came to his assistance the following year when he began a fast for economic rights from a tent in Chapel Hill NC.  I forwarded progress reports to Senator John Edwards who himself campaigned about poverty with his Two Americas  pitch.

In 2004 with a Presidential election looming I forwarded a letter to candidate John Edwards, drawing his attention to the T-word, taxation and the cost of an egregious war in Iraq.


As I learned recently, Ashoka had recently won a Harvard  ‘Long Term Capitalism’ award for their Hybrid Value Chain concept.  Terry , whose work on an alternative to capitalism began in 1996,  with a paper for Clinton’s re-election campaign, gained no such award in spite of pioneering business for social purpose.

In 2008, he’d sent a reminder of the social enterprise proposal to USAID and the Committee on Foreign Relations, which brought up the matter of capitalism for social purpose,  ending:

“Welcome to our brave new world. Except it’s not so new: learn to love and respect each other first, especially the weakest, most defenseless, most voiceless among us, then figure out the rest. There aren’t other more important things to do first. This message has been around for at least two thousand years. How difficult is it for us to understand?  ” 

In November 2009, candidate Obama announced his plans to close tax loopholes and end the war in Iraq to pay for an agency for social enterpreneurship and a 3.5 billion dollar social investment fund.

In August 2011, Terry,  himself an ‘orphan of wealth and adequate health’  lost his life to an illness he could not treat, as one of 50 million Americans without health insurance. He’d no doubt have been pleased with the progress of ObamaCare.

His death and efforts, acknowledged by Ukraine’s civic activists reveal that one orphan of wealth had not fulfilled his vision of liberating thousands of others.

Rather than coming home with a prize, he’s been returned in a casket, illustrating that where once there were Two Americas, there are now clearly Two types of American Social Enterprise, one  disowned by the nation they live in.’

6 thoughts on “The Orphans of Wealth

  1. Michaela says:

    Thank You Jeff,
    Your continued effort to give insight and some answers is very much appreciated.
    I am sad to hear about Terry ~ His efforts will not be forgotten.

  2. chrisconder says:

    He will have his prize in a better place. Nothing that is done is forgotten.

  3. tomjd says:

    Just to clarify – Ashoka are not opening a School for Social Entrepreneurs in Australia, it is a franchise of the UK-based School for Social Entrepreneurs.



    • jeffmowatt says:

      Ah, ‘we’ve seen’ means an acknowledgement of external efforts. A precedent which might well be extended.

  4. Dena says:

    Thank you for the original post and for reposting. 🙂


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