Private Solutions for Social Problems

The accomplishments of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and this week's announcement that Mark Zuckerberg and his wife will donate almost all of their Facebook stock to a nonprofit organization that will address a variety of social issues highlight a shift from government-financed research and intervention to privately-funded solutions.

Indeed, governments across the globe have demonstrated an inability (or unwillingness) to solve many social problems, including poverty, homelessness, hunger, birth control, preventable disease, social justice, gun violence and global warming, among many others.  Hesitant to support politicians who promise action but cannot follow through, many citizens are using their personal wealth, company profits, community fundraising or internet crowd-sourcing to develop and implement effective interventions.

Of course, government inaction on human rights will continue to spawn a more direct response from the populace, including demonstrations, boycotts and, unfortunately, violent reactions.  Private entrepreneurship and generosity may soften the effects of government inaction but it cannot replace the government's important role in protecting human rights and the welfare of our environment, a role that many Conservative Republicans would prefer to abolish.