I know that many of you donate a lot of money to progressive causes and candidates, but I recently got an idea for another avenue for societal progress you might pursue. The idea is a general one about a kind of action you can take that combines business, philanthropy, and political activism, but in this post, I’ll describe it in terms of a specific type of business.
It could be anything, but for the purposes of this post, let’s say it’s solar energy. You start a business that basically either sells solar panels directly to people at super low prices, or asks homeowners to let you place your own solar panels on their roofs in exchange for the opportunity to buy from you the cheaper electricity they’d produce. (Note: you wouldn’t need to actually do the solar panel production or installation yourself. You’d rely on third parties, and simply be a middleman.)
This particular business idea is not new, but not as many entrepreneurs are embracing it as one might hope, and I assume the reason for this is that it’s not profitable enough in enough places at this time, due to the tech or the local energy regulations or public awareness or whatever not quite being friendly enough yet. But this is where the philanthropic aspect comes in. You’d swallow what losses there were, considering them the equivalent of a donation to some good cause. (Reducing our carbon emissions, helping families save money on energy, supporting the many businesses that specialize in producing and installing solar panels.) And you could also consider them to be political donations, because…
You’d concentrate your efforts on economically distressed areas of the country, which also tend to be in red, or at least purple, states. Aside from creating jobs and energy savings for those Americans who need it most, you’d have an ideological effect on these mostly red state residents by relieving some of the economic anxiety that tends to drive them to the GOP’s white nationalism and voodoo economics. And you might even get some of them believing in climate change!
This is the idea, and one way it might be incarnated. There are others: low cost tutoring or child care centers, low priced food coops, summer camps, science clubs, etc. Ventures that would improve society and possibly shift the ideological divide leftward, except that they aren’t quite viable as business ideas. But you could provide the extra bump needed to make them happen after all.
This has been a “Politake,” a brief take on politics by Freeman Ng.