05:15 AM

A Response to "Would You Share Your Income With Your Influencers?"

I recently wrote a critical story on Openyear, a startup that wants to reward people on how much they influence others, and recruit people that will share their salaries with those that influence them.

The company site features worthy people such as Muhammad Yunus, the 2006 Nobel Peace prize winner and his efforts to eradicate poverty worldwide, but there is no connection between the two.

You can read the the original here: Would You Share Your Income With Your Influencers?

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Here is the response from Joseph Hentz, founder of Openyear: Bold text is from the original article.

- "Openyear seems to be saying that "income inequality" can be eradicated by implementing its system of influencer tracking. I don't get the connection."

Yunus speaks of systemic change, requiring the participation of individuals, businesses and institutions - all in the plural. It's impossible for any single entity to accomplish this alone. Openyear is just one of many social businesses chipping away at the problem(s).

-"For one, it would be tremendously difficult to monitor influence. Secondly, how does sharing your salary with people that influence you eradicate poverty?"

This was true in 2000. Not so, anymore. A large, and increasing % of our day, is mediated through digital devices. The data is out there, and the ability to process it is only becoming faster and easier.

Eradicating poverty is not something any single entity can do on its own. It requires investments in education, and all of us working together. "Know how", as documented in degrees, training and resumes is the basis on which most people are paid. But it's only half the story. The undocumented, "Know Who", "Know What", "Know Where", Know When, - Influence - are conveyed to us from other people is the rest.

Influence is social evidence that no one does it all alone. It connects us, and provides a natural, and more reality-reflective basis for distributing wealth properly in the first place. Additionally, the data shows  significant correlation between inequality, as measured by the Gini index, and poverty rates. Basically, when the middle is strengthened, the bottom is strengthened too.

- "Why should Mr Ellison share his compensation, which in 2008 was $556 million? If I influenced him in any way, why should I share in his success in taking something and him being able to monetize it? What's in it for him? A feel good fuzzy feeling that he has handed over millions of dollars and now become "income equalized?"

Why is Larry, Warren Buffet, or anyone for that matter, more productive today than we were 100 years ago? It's not because we're smarter, or any more capable. 88% of our productivity is due to building on the work of people from the past according to Nobel economist Robert Solow. Another 6% is from people influencing us who are alive today 6% from ourselves.

What's in it for Larry, or Warren Buffet, or any other super earner who participates is the following:

- 1.A faster growing economy. More money in more hands creates markets. More people can afford to buy what you're selling.

- 2.A reputation for fair play, which means better morale inside their companies, and an easier time recruiting talent.

- 3.Help with their agendas. There's more smart people outside their companies than inside their companies. They'll help when they know they're guaranteed to be paid should they influence Larry, or any other super earner.

- 4.Reduced violence and criminality. What's peace of mind worth? In other countries with higher inequality than the US, the rich need bodyguards, armored cars and super secure homes.

- 5.They'll be putting their charitable dollars to, arguably, its most effective use, as inequality touches on so many different problems, from health and life expectancy to the strength of democracies.

- "The idea of my sharing my income and then sharing in the income of others seems like moving money around where only Openyear would make money, by taking a piece of the action."

When the circulatory system moves blood around, all organs benefit. So, too with the macro economy. Many institutions (Wall st.) exacerbate inequality, concentrating more money in fewer hands. We need a change! Everyone takes a piece of the action. That's what earning is. But Openyear gives as well as takes. Any earner who participates - those in the bottom 99% of income - will be gifted a % of their income from Openyear to use to pay people who influence them. Only super earners, those in the top 1% of income will be required to contribute.

If people choose to contribute more, they can earn more.