Monday, April 16, 2007

Ya gotta wonder

The Nonprofiteer doesn't:
  1. understand irony
  2. read very closely
  3. follow logic across posts
  4. like me
  5. all of the above
  6. none of the above
Here's the post on the Nonprofiteer.

And, here is my, post lunch, blood sugar-affected cranky response:

"Glad to know what my stock in trade is. I would have thought it was my ability to see patterns where others don't, to apply historiographical and other methodologies to understanding the world around us, and to provoke creative thinking by pointing out the things around us that we are so used to seeing we don't see them anymore. I no more celebrate the inability of my local public library to stock its shelves with out my emptying mine than I do think that NGOs as they always have will, can, or should solely try to feed the hungry or clothe the poor. My point is this - we all created these problems, all three sectors must be accountable and engaged in solving them. No single sector approach, or holier than thou attitude is going to accomplish diddly, IMHO."

Here's the thing about writing/reading blogs. Some of us try to maintain a train of thought over time, as well as use the technology to 'jot down' things we notice. Before blogging, I kept all this stuff in my head and in 000s of little notebooks. So I knew when I was being snide, ironic, gaping in wonder at the stupidity of the world around me, making an emphatic point, or simply 'jotting things down.' I guess my intent isn't always perceptible to readers. I'll try harder (would emoticons help?) Sometimes. Maybe.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There's nothing holier-than-thou about differing over the best places to put one's energies in order to make social change. Your enthusiasm for social entrepreneurship and other private-sector-flavored remedies--which I infer from the frequency and tone of your posts about them--seems to me to reflect a sense that current allocations of power are fixed, and that the appropriate question for the nonprofit sector is how best to come to terms with the winners, namely, the holders of private wealth.

By contrast, I think this constitutes nonprofits' looking for love in all the wrong places. I haven't given up hope for a public victory. As you know from your studies of history, this is the oldest dispute affecting the nonprofit sector--our "original sin," if you will. If we were having this debate in the 19th Century, you'd be lauding the establishment of Carnegie libraries and I'd be agitating for universal public secondary education. What Carnegie did was great--but it was more important to forge a social consensus that schools should be free and universal. Today we're trying to decide whether and how to forge that consensus about day care, elder care and health care (among other things), and I don't want us to decide that Bill Gates's generosity about any or all of those things is a substitute for continuing to ask questions about the breadth and depth of the social compact.

I do think the business of nonprofits is to push for a political response to our civic responsibilities to one another--that is, as opposed to a philanthropic response. I don't dispute that every sector has its role to play; but the size and content of that role is subject to dispute, and you and I dispute it.

It's fine that BP is building green gas stations--but signing the Kyoto Treaty matters more. It's great that Starbuck's aspires to trade fairly with its growers--but revamping US agricultural tariffs and subsidies matters more. Now that private fortunes have flourished more than at any time since the Gilded Age, it's fine to appeal to entrepreneurs to use their problem-solving skills on the problems of the world--but it's more important to restore the estate tax. You may disagree, but this is a legitimate political dispute, and nothing personal.