7 lessons in saving the world

Annual “Woodstock for social entrepreneurs” shows the way

The planet’s most optimistic activists met in Oxford, England, this spring to share notes on why so many things are going wrong. It turns out structural change requires that you change first.

The world, at least on paper, is getting better. Never have so many people on this planet had better access to food, education, health care and human rights. All the same, we seem no closer to a just society. Solve one problem and two more take its place. Nagging concerns about social justice, inequality, nationalism, racism, corruption and human dignity, not to mention the environment, remind us that the closer we get to better, the farther we are from good enough.

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Less than Zero: Inside Amazon’s $0 tax bill

How could America’s eighth-biggest company, with US$233 billion in revenue and $11 billion in profit, escape taxation?

At heart, capitalism is a simple system. Anyone can start a business. If you make a profit, you pay a portion of those profits in tax to support the society that made your success possible.

In the real world, things aren’t so simple. In February, the Washington, D.C.-based Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) reported that Seattle-based Amazon, the retail/tech behemoth, paid no federal income taxes in 2018 even though its profits soared.

“Amazon will pay $0 in federal income taxes for the second year in a row,” growled More shouty was this headline from tech news site The Register: “Amazon triples profit to $11.2bn, pays ZERO DOLLARS in corp tax – instead we pay it $129m.”

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Only 16, but Greta Thundberg is the voice of reason

The iron-willed teen has inspired over a million youth to confront their elders’ failure to act

In the global debate over what to do about climate change, one party has typically been silent: the generation that will take charge of the earth when today’s decision-makers (and decision-delayers) cede control or pass away. As a group of student activists wrote to the Guardian on March 1, “We are the voiceless future of humanity.”

But now the next generation has a voice, and a name: pigtailed Swedish teen Greta Thunberg. By skipping school to protest climate change at the Swedish parliament, the iron-willed 16-year-old has inspired today’s young people to confront their elders’ failure to act.

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Back to Skoll

By Rick Spence
Taking the pulse of social entrepreneurship

Every April, about a thousand social entrepreneurs gather in Oxford, England, for the annual Skoll World Forum. Founded by Canadian Jeff Skoll, the first president of eBay, Skoll World supports and celebrates social entrepreneurs as innovative pragmatists changing the world.

Whether they work in healthcare, education, justice or agricultural reform, social innovators savour Skoll World as an opportunity to reflect and recharge – especially in today’s era of me-first nationalism. To revive and refresh your own inner activist, here are seven takeaways from the 2018 Skoll World Forum:

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It’s a Skoll world

By Rick Spence
Top takeaways from this year’s annual forum on social entrepreneurship

Amid the dreaming spires of Oxford, U.K., the world’s leading social optimists – philanthropists, activists, entrepreneurs and a few celebrities – met in April to discuss how to keep improving the world amid a nightmare political climate of fear and nationalism.

It was quite the mood swing for the Skoll World Forum, a global meetup for social entrepreneurs inspired by Canadian Jeff Skoll, who was eBay’s first president and now spends his time founding organizations that address global social, medical and economic ills. In its 15th year, Skoll World adopted the tough-love theme, “Fault Lines: Finding Common Ground.” Attendees were in a cautious and defensive mood, given the rise of Trump, Brexit, and us-versus-them politics.

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