The growing chasm between unmet social needs and what our social institutions are routinely accomplishing cannot be crossed one small step, or one standardized program, at a time. Something shown to have worked somewhere will not automatically produce the same effects elsewhere.
Depending on the model economists use and the assumptions they make, they estimate a net stimulus that ranges from small to very small. But, behind the word "net," lies a wide spectrum of gains, pains, people, and policies.
As controllers of technology, individually and collectively, we must balance technological connection with disconnection, have the discipline to lose ourselves in our unconscious minds, and have the focus to listen to our souls.
I have spent 25 years advocating for the homeless. And I know that if the solution to homelessness were as simple as taxpayer supported homes, one of the thousands of smart, passionate advocates working on this crisis would have already come up with that answer.
At the cutting edge of new social innovation financing are social impact bonds (SIBs), a potentially transformative idea. The deals transfer risk from the government to the private sector and generate new capital to invest in evidence-based interventions that would otherwise go unfunded.
If we accept the position that public social support has to have some rational limits, then many more people must build on whatever that base of support will be to push their lives further forward with their own efforts, brains, energy and ambition.
This philosophical argument over the role of government has been going on in America since colonial days, and in Europe long before that. One of the most interesting debates was over firefighting services.
Why not convene a council of unconventional elders -- academics, writers, artists, technology wizards, farmers, small business owners and public officials? They would give President Obama unfiltered advice on all sorts of issues.