Eye of the Needle

This official said Bush’s closest aides are promoting big initiatives on the theory that they contribute to Bush’s image as a decisive leader even if people disagree with some of the specifics. “Iraq was big. AIDS is big,” the official said. “Big works. Big grabs attention.” — from a recent Washington Post article on Bush’s rumored ambitions for a new Moon mission

As if remaking the Middle East, expanding Medicare, and making sure no child is left behind is not enough to keep the Bush administration busy, it’s now looking for even more ways to perpetuate the myth that only the government can take on ambitious projects. This, to put it mildly, is disappointing, especially coming from such a conservative president.

For a breath of fresh air, take a look at this article by science fiction writer David Brin. In it he describes an innovative way to harness philanthropy to accomplish great things. His proposal for an “Eye of the Needle” foundation is one of those creatively simple ideas that makes reading SF so enjoyable and one that libertarians could truly get behind (if you want to get right to the EON idea, skip to page 2 of the article).

Brin is also the author of The Transparent Society, a thought provoking book on technology and privacy, and the novel Sundiver, which I’m currently reading and enjoying.

Comments

  1. Ben Stark says:

    Since I’m too busy/lazy to actually read the article, but since I do eventually intend to create an organization dedicated to philanthropy type stuff (faith-based legal aid clinic), give me a short summary. Now! On the double! Btw, hi Jacob!

  2. Jacob Grier says:

    You’re right, Ben, I should have provided a summary. I’m such a lazy blogger! Too make it up to you, here’s an excerpt from the article (the lazy way to provide a summary). The goal of the Eye of the Needle Foundation would be…

    “…a very special, exclusive — and uniquely expensive — gift catalog. Gilt-edged, with platinum bindings.

    “A 100 page registry of bold ways to change the world.

    “These would be projects that ill-suit the typical investment horizons of industry or government, the two dominant capitalizing forces of the 20th Century. Because each is constrained by accountability — to constituents or stockholders — governments and corporations must control risk in ways that don’t always hamper an individual billionaire. Indeed, risky projects may attract the next generation of Waltons partly because they are gaudy, risky, and above all memorable.”

    And hi to you, too, Starky!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hi, everyone! I’am reading this book and I think it is pretty good. How do you like it? I intent to write my term paper about this book. So, is it a book that can be writen about?

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