Here’s a truly thoughtless piece from David Brooks (not in itself an especially newsworthy phenomenon) about the "new" trend in nonprofits: social entrepreneurship! Note that the only consideration he gives to the role of the commonwealth in determining the common good is to shudder at the prospect:
There’s obviously a
danger in getting government involved with these entrepreneurs.
Government agencies are natural interferers, averse to remorseless
competition and quick policy shifts.
The danger is in getting government involved with providing for the welfare of its citizens? And the solution is having private individuals determine what public-welfare programs work best and should be supported? That must be because privatizing government functions has worked so well in Iraq, and at the State Department (where contract employees are reading your passport files), and in the public schools that have been captured by for-profit companies.
Their problem now is scalability. How do the social entrepreneurs
replicate successful programs so that they can be big enough to make a
America Forward, a consortium of these
entrepreneurs, wants government to do domestic policy in a new way. It
wants Washington to expand national service (to produce more social
entrepreneurs) and to create a network of semipublic social investment
funds….to invest in
community-run programs that produce proven results. The government
would not operate these social welfare programs, but it would, in
essence, create a network of semipublic Gates Foundations that would
pick winners based on stiff competition.
If the problem is replicating successful programs so they can be big enough to make a national difference we could use, uh, what’s that called? Public funding? But that would mean all these wealthy people would have to pay taxes. And worse, that would mean all these brilliant people–and they must be brilliant, right? Otherwise they wouldn’t be wealthy, because the market allocates rewards perfectly and life is completely fair–would have to consult something other than their own attitudes, prejudices and needs before deciding what’s best for the rest of us.