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In these cases you have several options. You can retreat into mysticism or religion, you can try to leave, you can try to set up a defensive fortress, or you can live for the moment.

<snip>

Notice that even among those who feel that something can be done (like the bloggers here), most of the discussion is about defining the problems, and very little about providing solutions of a magnitude large enough to be meaningful.

Your sentence after the <snip> implies, to me anyway, that you are thinking of a 5th option as well.  An option where people form around a solution to a problem, or a vision, normally leaders emerge, and great efforts happen to overcome the problem.  Perhaps the pre-WWII period is a good example,,,where Churchill and others saw what Hitler's true motives were.  They were unsuccessful in the beginning, for one reason because after the horrors of WWI, there was an understandable reluctance to accept that this might happen again.  But eventually a political coalition was formed around his vision of reality, and what needed to be done.

Slavery in the US was a major issue during the writing of the constitution.  But a broad shared vision was not able to win out.  On this issue, the founders "kicked the can down the road",,they couldn't work it out, so they took what good things they could agree on, and ran with that.  But the inequities to fellow man were egregious, those with the vision of freedom for all formed many common groups with interests that are purely altruistic (which focuses on interests that are solely others', which one pursues only out of a sense of stewardship, ethics, or morality.

These were massive efforts that we are all aware of.  But their are smaller efforts like this that are under the radar of the press and population in general.  There are small deadly diseases, where friends and loved ones of those that have the disease desire that money and resources be dedicated to solving it.  Often this starts with a few loved ones forming a group to try to develop a program to fix the disease.  I've been reading about Lupus a little recently, so I googled it and found The Lupus Foundation of America.  Just some of the headlines on the site:
1. Federal Employees Can Donate to LFA
through the Combined Federal Campaign - Agency #0533
2. Grants Available from Department of Defense for Lupus Research
Letter of Intent Due April 10, 2006 - Final Application Due May 12, 2006
3. Save the Date! 3rd Annual Champion to Champion Awards Gala
Ritz-Carlton Hotel, May 10, 2006, Washington DC

(btw, I don't really know this Lupus foundation, so I'm winging it here a little in implying they are reputable--I assume they are, and know of many like them that have wonderful motives and are hoping for results.  But I haven't carefully researched this)

The US government, (the UK and perhaps others as well) have put programs into place to support the efforts to find solutions.  Clinical trials today can run to $100's of millions, which is an incredible challenge if the disease only effects a small part of the population.  The orphan drug act was created to make that process easier for these small incidence diseases.

Enlightened self interest then brings in start-up companies, investors willing to take risks, to try to solve the problem, with the hoped for reward of financial gain, or perhaps for scientific employees, recognition by peers.  One company that I have become familiar with, La Jolla Pharaceutical had some technologies that they thought would impact Lupus, and they formed a company, did all the science, went public, ran their clinical trial--got just OK results, but didn't hit their end points on the trial, so the FDA said they thought the drug could make it but the trial had to be redone, and prove it factually.  At that point the company had "blown" $250 million.  They came close to bankruptcy, but convinced more investors it was worth rolling the dice and betting another $88 million.

But there are many stories in healthcare of people with enlightened self interest banning together to try to accomplish altruistic objectivers--and the supporters are loved ones of patients, the governments, scientists, investors, business people to run the firm, engineers to develop the products and manufacturing processes.  

I mean for these examples to support the point of enlightened self interest, and hopefully they do.

by wchurchill on Sun Feb 19th, 2006 at 12:39:45 PM EST
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