If you favor opportunity and upward mobility for the downtrodden, the disenfranchised and the deprived, then you know government is the ultimate program at scale. Want to go big? Go government.
Sure, the private sector innovates best, but only government has the power and resources to effectuate universal compliance. The private sector can design, manufacture and sell a stop sign, but only government can make you stop at it. We are all safer for it.
You can invest in the top or the bottom of the economic pyramid until your shareholders all own private yachts, but only government creates the rule of law to protect the profits with contract enforcement, copyright protection, safe streets for consumers, stable currencies, etc. We are all richer for it.
Nonprofits experiment with new ways to delivery clean water, finance affordable clean tech, build gender-blind schools, support nascent civil societies, and on and on. Government, answerable to the people, is responsible for taking best practices and turning them into common practice.
In the raw world of public policy, there are three levers of power: money, information and public opinion. All three lead to election day votes from registered voters who are the currency of the realm.
Thus, I welcome the newly-forming Center for Citizen Empowerment and Transformation. (Note to reader: No hyperlink. Don't try to Google it. It is so new, that you won't find it on the Internet until next year.)
The Center is the brainchild of Sam Daley-Harris who has a history of big ideas successfully implemented. The animating vision?
In Sam's words, "Just as there are people in the world who are hungry for food and desperate to get an education for themselves or their children, Americans are hungry to have more meaning in their lives -- to live lives that truly matter."
"What if they went far beyond mouse-click advocacy and committed themselves to creating [anti-poverty] champions in Congress and the local media? Let's empower people to make a difference. From I-can't-fight-city-hall to I-am-city-hall."Sam in action, as he talks about Poverty, Purpose, Pitfalls, and Redemption:
As a community organizer, social entrepreneur and visionary, Daley-Harris has two remarkable successes on which to build his new Center. In 1980, Sam founded RESULTS Educational Fund, a citizen lobby to end hunger and poverty.
In 1997, Sam, FINCA founder John Hatch and Grameen Bank founder Muhammad Yunus launched the Microcredit Summit Campaign. The first Summit was attended by 2,900 delegates from 137 countries and launched a campaign to reach 100 million of the world's poorest families with self-employment small business loans.
His book, Reclaiming Our Democracy: Healing the Break Between People and Government, is a frontal attack on cynicism and the crisis of apathy which is corrosively distorting American government into an agent of and for the powerful few.
I am looking forward to watching the words of Sam's book become the actionable deeds of the Center for Citizen Empowerment and Transformation.
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