What do the following items have in common?
â€¢ Bill Gates retires as chief executive officer of Microsoft in July 2008 in order to spend time working on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with an endowment of about $35 billion.
â€¢ Warren Buffet pledges some $31 billion of his fortune to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
â€¢ Peter Senge, world renowned for his influential book, The Fifth Discipline, is dedicating his brain power to exploring social responsibility. In a recent book, he points out that individuals businesses are implementing creative solutions to establish a sustainable world.
â€¢ In defiance of the opposition of the oppressive and incompetent national government, locals in Myanmar Link">organized food distribution and relief efforts for victims of the May 2008 Tsunami, which killed some 140,000 people
â€¢ Thousands of volunteers from all parts of China rushed to Sichuan to Link">organize relief efforts in the aftermath of the earthquake that killed some 85,000 people.
â€¢ In America, volunteerism is growing dramatically and steadily.
â€¢ After President George W. Bush blocked funding for most embryonic stem cell research, private companies and state governments moved to fill the funding gap.
What these items have in common is that they show that some efforts traditionally assumed by the welfare state are being taken over by individuals, businesses and states operating independently of the federal government.