Radical Charity: Dan Pallotta at TED

Dan Pallotta at TED says we keep trying to fool ourselves into believing that a more perfect market strategy will make charity unnecessary. It’s the wrong approach and undermines the essential value of most humanitarian endeavors, Pallotta says. “You can’t monetize love and compassion.”

One reason I’ve never been asked to talk at a TED conference may be due to the fact that I regularly make fun of the talkfest as a gathering of the self-important furthering the mind-melting trend of sound-bite philosophy. Or maybe it’s because I have little to offer, even as a sound bite.

That said, I would like to say this TED video of activist, humanitarian and writer Dan Pallotta is Totally Awesome.

Pallotta starts out by castigating the popular notion that we should abandon typical charitable or humanitarian efforts in favor of more socially attuned business enterprises. The reality, he says,  is the marketplace will always neglect the poorest of the poor. Trying to fool ourselves into believing that a more perfect market strategy will make charity unnecessary is wrong.

Trying to force charites to take on the typical business mindset is equally wrong-headed and will only serve to further undermine humanitarian endeavors, Pallotta says.

“You can’t monetize love and compassion.” But, as he explains, we can still do it better.

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Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at]humanosphere.org or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.