Can Businesses Actually Do Some Social Good?

Citizens are relying less and less on government based solutions

Technology and new market models are chipping away at the old idea that the government is the sole-solution provider to social problems, argues William Eggers, co-author of the new book The Solution Revolution: How Business, Government, and Social Enterprises are Teaming up to Solve Society's Toughest Problems.

As Eggers explains, whether it’s new ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft or established corporations like Coca-Cola funding clean water abroad, “companies are finding that they actually can create a mutual advantage between solving problems and making a profit.”

Eggers, a former Reason Foundation scholar, sat down with Reason TV’s Nick Gillespie to discuss the growth of socially conscious businesses, the importance of multi-sector problem solving, and the hurdles some of these new market-oriented solutions are facing.

“Most of the models we discuss in the book are disruptive models,” Eggers explains. “And when you have disruption you always have the current regime fighting back.”

About 10 minutes.

Camera by Joshua Swain and Amanda Winkler. Edited by Winkler. 

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  • anon||

    “companies are finding that they actually can create a mutual advantage between solving problems and making a profit.”

    Uh, companies have been "finding" this since the advent of Division of Labor.

  • ~Knarf Yenrab~||

    David Riwhozzit?

  • GILMORE||

    Making money is 'socially conscious'

    The notion that Capitalism is inherently exploitative is a bullshit myth.

    Thank you for shopping.

  • Sevo||

    ...“companies are finding that they actually can create a mutual advantage between solving problems and making a profit.”...

    Not news.
    Businesses have been 'solving problems', like, oh, providing food for a long time, all in the interest of making a profit.
    Now, take these losers for example:
    "Tommi Avicollo Mecca talks about economic disparity outside the Crunchies award ceremony at Davies Symphony Hall. Speakers at the event said they are aware of the issues created by tech wealthy."
    http://www.sfgate.com/technolo.....225940.php
    That is a 'problem' that should be ignored.

  • anon||

    Businesses have been 'solving problems', like, oh, providing food for a long time, all in the interest of making a profit.

    Somehow "profit" got dissociated from the portion you charge for your life spent on creating/providing whatever you're selling, and nobody has the balls to tell anyone bitching that you aren't giving your life away to fuck off.

  • Almanian!||

    nobody has the balls to tell anyone bitching that you aren't giving your life away to fuck off

    *raises hand*

    Um, it's not "zero", and at least one. I know you weren't being literal. LITERALLY. But...

    /pedant

  • anon||

    Yeah it was pretty poorly phrased. What I meant is that "No sir. My time is worth money; you are paying me for my time or else I'm not doing shit for you."

  • R C Dean||

    Anytime I see phrases like "business, government, and activists are teaming up", I never really see anything good coming out of it. That's the recipe for corruption, crony capitalism, and miscellaneous malfeasance, as far as I can tell.

  • Paul.||

  • sarcasmic||

    Watch the video. The guy makes some interesting points.

  • Almanian!||

    I'll agree with sarc. We've done some stuff at my places of bidness that definitely helped at a local level, without spinning off into the issues you've noted.

    I think the keys are "local/smaller is better" and "voluntary/noncoercive". You stay in that zone, you can do a lot of good without starting the typical govt overreach that leads to concern.

  • Grand Moff Serious Man||

    Given the absurd levels of hostility shown to Google employees in the Bay Area, I'd say the proggies in those cities cannot, by definition, view anything private as good or beneficial. To them private means you can't know or trust the motives of the individual or group of persons running the operation and that frightens them.

    Google could cure cancer and charge $99 for it and they'd demand the government nationalize it and give to them for free.

  • Tonio||

    Yeah, I wish Google would just pack up and move. Hell, they could buy Detroit (Art Collection included) for pocket change.

  • american socialist||

    maybe they just don't want to live in a city with a two-tiered transportation system. do you live in sf, btw?

  • Sevo||

    Maybe they don't give a shit about socialists cares.

  • american socialist||

    is that why they are blockading Google buses?

  • Sevo||

    american socialist|2.12.14 @ 9:06PM|#
    "is that why they are blockading Google buses?"

    Oh, of COURSE! You're a socialist, so you're posting about ignorant thugs!
    My mistake, asshole.

  • american socialist||

    Please show me where I advocated for this type of activity. I'm for taxing rich people (you know, theft) so we can have viable mass transit systems-- not for blockading the google bus. It's you, nasty racist, that can't distinguish between those two activities. Sucks to be you...

  • Brian||

    american socialist:

    is that why they are blockading Google buses?

    They're blockading google buses because they don't like what google employees are doing to property values.

    The "two-tiered transportation system" is just a red herring. They don't care about Google using a public bus stop, other than what the property value implications are.

    You read about it on the internet, you know. It's why they're called "anti-gentrification activists."

    BTW, good luck coming up with a socialist solution to property values in silicon valley that politicians will actually go for. They know who pays taxes.

  • ||

    Technology and new market models are chipping away at the old idea that the government is the sole-solution provider to social problems

    This is like chipping ice cubes off a glacier.

  • Paul.||

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    The next time she gets into trouble requiring backup I imagine it will arrive 1 minute too late to help her.

    The majority of LEO's are just complete scum bags.

  • Almanian!||

    Also, one of my derp friends n FB yeterday posted a notice of some suspect beef found somewhere. Her brilliant and clever comments were to the effect "yes, let's get rid of all all regulation cause teh evil Kochporashunz and capitalism will make us safe!!11"

    My response - "We have more regulation than ever - literally - and yet this still happens. Odd, that." I didn't come back to see derptastic replies ot get into "it's not in companies' interest to kill their customers or make them ill", nor the whole issue of crony capitalism and regulatory capture, etc. etc. She's clearly too far gone for that, so just a "Hit n Run" poke in the eye.

    Most people are fucking stupid. I'll never get used to that. This is my cross to bear...

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    I am bearing that cross as well. 99% of the people I come into contact with are in a hypnosis over the effectiveness of government and what exactly enforcing the infinite amount of laws and already on the books entails.

  • Tonio||

    I've found that going past an initial reply is a waste of time. You got your point across, and it's still their for all to see.

  • Tonio||

    "there" dammit

  • ||

    You already had your point across.

  • Virginian||

    The mass shooting talk is fun with this. Apparently America has mass shootings because we don't have European style gun control. Except the current mass shooting record is the Norwegian shooting. Which doesn't prove that gun control doesn't work, it actually proves that even sensible European gun control isn't enough.

    Heads they win, tails you lose.

  • ||

    I think the point that it's not in the companies' interest to kill their customers is the one you should open up with. That's the one they're not getting. Their response to your point is just gonna be that the government isn't doing enough yet. A dumb notion, but one they will be satisfied with in their minds.

  • Cytotoxic||

    If I'm in the mood, I'll post a link to a story or article or whatever that fisks or otherwise screws up the point they think they're making. Then I just harvest the butthurt and leave.

  • Almanian!||

    Last, I dispute this - Citizens are relying less and less on government based solutions - based on the expanse of government with the blessing of the general population and "DON'T TOUCH MY MEDICARE!!" attitude.

    Last - you know who else promoted activities that ostensibly were for the "Social Good"...

  • Tonio||

    Margaret Sanger?

  • ||

    Heidi Fleiss?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    The director of the latest American Bukkake film?

  • american socialist||

    communists, adolf hitler, and pol pot-- right? the fact that you can't distinguish between francois hollande and josef stalin is your problem-- not mine.

  • LynchPin1477||

    You mean businesses weren't already doing social good?

  • ||

    Yes, apparently in some peoples mind, voluntary trade means that someone got screwed and only one party benefitted.

  • sarcasmic||

    *snort*

    Obviously! Rich business owners benefit while the workers and customers get screwed!

    Because profit is theft! Theft from the workers and the customers! Only the rich benefit from trade!

    Everyone else gets screwed!

  • ||

    I argue constantly with dumbasses that everyone wins in voluntary transactions and no matter how often or creatively I say it, they just refuse to believe the stuff they bought was done fairly. I then proceed to tell them how dumb they are for buying something at a price they felt was unfair. They don't like that, and proceed to stick their fingers in their ears and scream, "La la la la la la la, all my preconceived notions are right, you're wrong!"

  • Sevo||

    Bones|2.12.14 @ 3:40PM|#
    "I argue constantly with dumbasses that everyone wins in voluntary transactions and no matter how often or creatively I say it, they just refuse to believe the stuff they bought was done fairly."...

    And if they were ever in a truly controlled market, they'd be griping at the black-market vendors for getting them food.

  • CE||

    Businesses solve social problems every day. People need to eat, and businesses provide an array of grocery stores, restaurants, and pizza delivery shops to solve that social problem. People need money now and are willing to pay it back later with interest, and other businesses solve that social problem every day.

    Businesses that help people the most at the lowest cost to society in wasted resources and wasted labor costs reap the largest profits and can reinvest them, leading to greater efficiencies over time. Businesses that waste money go out of business, so the cycle is self-improving.

    Government has no competition and no feedback loop. If government fails, it gets more money, growing less efficient over time.

  • ||

    But, but... Wealth inequality! Some people have more than others. That's not fair! We should all be equally impoverished.

  • ||

    May I copy and paste this into my FB status? It's exactly what I want to say today to all the socialists in my feed.

  • David Wall||

    Eggers' clear assumption is that only when profits are directed toward philantrophy are they good. Of course, profits represent the amount of public good a product brings. Thanks, Eggers for giving away the basic premise of capitalism to the enemy. Crap, how are we ever going to win, when guys like you can't even put forth a moral argument for capitalism.

    Many of your commentatorie are way ahead of you on this one, Nick.

  • Bill J Killroy||

    No. Next question.

    Seriously, companies are supposed to make money for their shareholders. There are other legal entities for charitable endeavors.

  • Libertarius||

    "Social good" (or "social" anything) is a floating abstraction untethered to reality; 'good' is a concept which pertains to specific entities, not some ethereal "social" non-entity.

    If there was such a thing as "social good", who would it pertain to? Not you, you're you; not the other guy, same thing. "Social good" is a floating abstraction which connotes (rather than denotes) a floating 'good' which allegedly pertains to everybody somewhere, but nobody in-particular.

  • cheap soccer jerseys||

    Google could cure cancer and charge $99 for it and they'd demand the government nationalize it and give to them for free.

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