Saturday, June 28, 2008

More on Creative Capitalism

I was just re-reading Ed Glaeser's essay on creative capitalism.  He talks about several examples of private social entrepreneurship.  But each of these examples are individual efforts or non-profit organizations.

He talks about Herbert Hoover's efforts to feed Belgium after WWI.  But that was a philanthropic organization that raised funds through voluntary donations.

He mentions the National Institutes of Health, a government institution, and points out that the private sector provides the innovation in the medical field because the government is unable to take the appropriate risks necessary to make bold discoveries.

He then mentions Rockefeller's efforts to eradicate hookworm in the south.  The problem is that these are not "creative capitalists" in the way that Gates spoke about in the speech that launched the site.  They are a wealthy philanthropist, profit maximizing firms and a wealthy (oft demonized) philanthropist respectively.

If Glaeser is really making a call to arms for hyper wealthy individuals to do what they can to help the poor why not just come out and say so?  The only connection to capitalism that the first and third example provide is that these individuals were able to create enormous wealth and use their private wealth afterwards to help others.

If this is what creative capitalism really means, there isn't anything to do because this is already the way that capitalism works.

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