What’s an Institution You Admire?


We are in the midst of a national miasma in which the federal government and Wall Street in particular are considered practically vile.

I am sure this will change — either when these institutions improve themselves or when the public moves on to another target.

It is easy to assail institutions because they are so — well, institutional. Large, sometimes faceless, probably richer than you, perhaps impenetrable, etc.

It isn’t hard to think of a lot of institutions that in just the past few years have been roundly called out: the media, organized religion, Hollywood, etc.

So what I’m asking is this: What’s an institution that you admire? And, more important, why?

It might be the small nursery school where you send your kids, or the university you attend; it might be an anti-poverty group or a political-action group where you volunteer.

I am just interested in hearing (for a change of pace) about the institutions that are doing right by people, that stick to their missions (or create better ones), that behave responsibly and creatively, or whatever else you have to say.

Maybe we’ll turn one of the most interesting suggestions into a JungleSmash campaign.

a flying, burger-eating, golfer

The United States Golf Association

In-N-Out Burger

Almost any large company that has a human answering its telephones...let's start with Southwest Airlines


My disfunctional family.


My local library! I freakin love that place. Libraries are the best thing government has ever done for us.

Shaun G

Commerce Bank (now TD Commerce Bank) ... for the sole reason that when you call their 800 number, you speak to an *actual person* rather than having to sift through 10 layers of automated menus.

And ... the Catholic Church. I'll admit, it's definitely had its share of scandals in recent years, but the thing that's easy to overlook is that for every clergy member who has brought scandal on the Church, there are many, many more who have devoted their lives to faithful service -- not to mention all the men and women religious who teach, provide health care, pray for the world, and otherwise do the right thing, often with little or no recognition.

LA Darras

I agree with NPR, PBS, Target, Daily Show, Colbert Report, NY Times, Apple, public libraries, open source software like Open Office.org

I disagree with boy scouts, salvation army, wal-mart (what were they thinking?), FOX news (the most incredibly biased and bad news channel ever), Microsoft (Bill, fix your software!)

Thanks for mentioning girl scouts too!

This could go on for a long time!



Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Warren Buffet (for giving his $ to BMGF)

Micro Lending (Muhammad Yunus)

Public Education


Peace Corps

Boy Scouts


CBC "Canadian Broadcasting Corporation" Radio, TV & Internet. A binding thread in the fabric of Canada.

Also. The National Film Board of Canada.

Socially relevant, informative, entertaining and occasionally provocative media.

Dr.'s Without Borders. Kiva.org, Red Cross and so many more...



Wal-Mart? Really? A success story of capitalism, certainly, but why not pick a success story that suggests capitalism can be about community self interest as opposed that of share holders - Wegman's, Costco, Target, etc.

I find nothing idiotic about individuals joining forces to benefit their own self interest. If Wal-Mart gets credit for integration, why should populists? How much do they sell compassion for these days?


#6: right on, this American Life is a service to the civilization we have left.

#22: You mean Grove City refusing to adhere to social standards of equality and preaching religious and political dogma in and out of the classroom? I hail my Alma Mater, Allegheny, thank you.

And my choice: The US Supreme Court, which hangs on by a thread.



Public libraries




Guinness (the brewery)

Luis Felipe Jaramillo

It's hard to think about admired institutions when you spend all your time criticizing them, specially those of the government here in Colombia. I can find quickly two great institutions: The Sillicon Valley -assuming it as an institution...- and the churches. The first one is because it's highly innovative, may be answering in a pretty good shape to a competitive market: I just wonder and wonder how those gadgets are delivered from the developments centers all days with new and useful features. And the second one is because of it's capability to survive so many years. I don't believe in the stuff they talk about, but they have survived a lot time. With very unlike ways, but they have survived...


Luis Felipe Jaramillo


Dr. Bob

The United States Armed Forces.

I agree with the Salvation Army - nobody does more good with less overhead and fanfare.

Boy Scouts of America.

A second for Hilldale College.

Walmart - besides the local benefit of helping people live better at less cost (including poor folks), they have raised the standards of living for their international suppliers and their employees.

McDonalds - has created more minority millionaires than any company in the US.


It used to be the Boy Scouts for me, until I worked for them. I found them to have overpaid and incompetent executives who I couldn't see getting hired outside the organization. The pressure to get numbers results in a lot of gray area---some of it a very dark gray. To me, they are just another shell company for those who enjoy the finer things and like to tell people how to live.

Now, its definitely Rotary International. They do good things for people around the world.


Kiva.org was the first one that came to mind, and I see that I was already beaten to that opinion by the first poster. It's a brilliant way (though they didn't invent it, just made it popular) of having any amount of your money make a real difference in the world without you ever losing the money; just serially loaning it to many others.


The Salvation Army. They do a lot of good for people that are in no position to pay them back and for next to nothing financially.

Owner Earnings At Blogspot

Berkshire Hathaway.

They have the most admirable CEO to ever live and it trickles down through the whole company.

John S.

The Grameen Bank

The Grameen Bank of Bangladesh and similar organizations around the world provide microcredit and a multitude of other services to the poorest of the poor. Too many of these people starve even when the economy is booming. Microcredit has helped many of them survive. In the current and coming hard economic times they will need our help even more.

The bank in Bangladesh.


Its affiliate that promotes and supports microcredit around the world.


Muhammad Yunus’ Nobel Prize Lecture

(He returns to English after about 2 minutes.)


John S.


Another one would be The Southern Poverty Law Center. Fighting bigotry with the law.


American Society for Quality (ASQ). Historically they have focused on training manufacturing engineers and technicians (think Motorola and Harley Davidson), but they are now focusing on bringing process improvement into Hospitals, Education, Government, and Financial institutions. Efficiency and mistake proofing are especially important now because we have fewer resources to wastes by the doing things the same old way.


The MacArthur Foundation

Doctors without Borders

the ACLU



public education and public libraries - my library has inscribed from Cicero: "If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need." But with a public library, you also have interlibrary loan. When I look about, I am beginning to think that what really sets apart developed and developing countries is universal (or public) education and its relative, the library.

Of governmental agencies, I do have to agree that the US Postal Service continues as almost at the inception of this imperfect union to unite us. The ability to communicate for small sums have and is invaluable to US.

Of purely governmental - the NIH. Imperfect, as it does not pay it's physicians comparable to private, hence the desire for consulting gigs that impose the concern of impropriety. Yet, it is area that continues with the Flexnerian ideals of continuing the expand the boundaries of biomedical science for its own sake, for the sake of those who suffer, the patient. Academic medicine has fallen into the trap that Flexner abhorred and felt compromised the academic mission - these institutions are dependent upon the clinical practice fees for survival. Hospital is from the same root as Hospice and Hotel - it was a haven for those those who were ill and had no one to help.