24 June 2011


National Review Online: The Agenda | Reihan Salam | Non-Washington Solutions

What I find interesting is pervasive American fatalism regarding non-government collective action. The United States is know for the richness and diversity of its voluntary sector, yet many of our largest philanthropic organizations are geared primarily towards influencing legislative outcomes and shaping government policy by funding “beta testing” for the public sector. We often hear talk of how foundations can leverage social resources to achieve change, yet the resources in question tend to be public resources. This strikes me as a failure that merits our attention, particularly as new technological tools emerge that, in theory at least, lower the barriers to collective action.

Not surprisingly, I tend to think that this failure derives from the fact that as the democratic state expands its purview, it tends to shrink the imagination of citizens and neighborhoods regarding what they can and should do collaboratively.
Doing something you think will be helpful: thumbs up.

Convincing others to do something you think will be helpful: okay.

Convincing politicians to force others to do something you think will be helpful: stop it.

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