As December 31 approaches, do you find your mailbox (USPS as well as Outlook) stuffed with solicitations for charities you never heard of?  Like the Save Your Ass Long-Ear Rescue, a donkey and mule refuge in Vermont, or the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a group of cross-dressing “nuns” who recently raised $25,000 for AIDS treatment with a live S-and-M show?

The number of organizations that can offer their donors a tax break in the name of charity has grown more than 60 percent in the United States, to 1.1 million, in just a decade.

The $300 billion donated to charities last year cost the federal government more than $50 billion in lost tax revenue. “Especially during these tough economic times, it’s troubling to hear we are increasing the number of these organizations at such a rapid pace,” said Representative Xavier Becerra, a California Democrat who is one of the few members of Congress to pay attention to the nonprofit sector.  – NY Times

Say what you will about the charitable causes themselves, let’s look at the principle at stake here.  Support for charities is one of the very few ways Americans can use their money the way they want and be rewarded (rather than taxed) by the government.  Would you rather direct your money to battle breast cancer, support the arts, and prevent animal abuse, or to buy a bridge to nowhere, send weapons to third world nations, or pay for Rep. Xavier Becerra’s salary and fabulous health insurance?

That $50 Billion in lost tax revenue bought something 1,000 times more valuable than anything the Federal government could — for ten times the cash.

The nonprofit sector in this country proves every day how wrong the classic capitalist/economic school is about the relationship between incentive and remunerative reward.  Here are armies of Americans who work their jobs with scant regard for hours, benefits, corporate trappings, bonuses, etc., let alone ego.  Many volunteer.  Many take vows of poverty (some explicitly and consciously, others find out years later.)  Most work ‘way longer than union workers, white collar slaves, or management at no reward than the satisfaction of a job well done.

Sure, there’s exceptions and yes, there’s corruption.  Compare it to what you find in government, or the financial sector.  Or the unions and the arms industry.  Sinners crawl among saints wherever you wander, but look at the ratios.  And if there are charities that stretch the limits of philanthropy, does the harm caused compare to a single Ponzi schemer, ruthless landlord, corrupt judge, or garden variety city commissioner?

Besides, what’s the problem with a live S&M show?  Given the resources, I’d become the Bill Gates Foundation of the genre.  They’d endow a leather seat in my name (complete with restraints).  Give ’til it hurts, right?

This entry was posted in Gen. Snark, Maj. Snafu, Corp. Punishment. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Gimme

  1. 'nonymous says:

    The nonprofit industry as a whole has to be one of the biggest scams in this country. For every legitimate charity like a hospital or the Cancer Society there are dozens virtually and legally stealing from unsuspecting donors, like fake churches, police athletic leagues that give back maybe 10% of what they collect, the Shriners who drink it all up, and outright phonies that spring to life every time there’s a disaster like Katrina or 911.

    What a whitewash this post is, and what prostitute you are.

  2. Ruh Roh says:

    You’re not wrong but you are exaggerating, ‘nonymous. Yes there are scams in the nonprofit world, that’s how us human beings are. But overall they do a much better job than their for-profit counterparts, and I agree with the post about the people who work them. I did it myself for a while, until I couldn’t afford to any more.

  3. Miami Harold says:

    ‘nonymous makes the same mistake as many purists:
    He lets the perfect become the enemy of the good.
    There is no perfect, but there must be good
    and nothing good is without imperfection
    even if that flaw is only its mortality and impermanence.

    Squathole: Nice to be back. Don’t ask.

  4. Leona Helmsley says:

    Oh for god’s sake, rich people don’t pay taxes … and charity is just another shelter. What’s a non-profit anyway? Harry? Harrrryyyyyy!?

  5. Leona Helmsley says:

    any one seen Harry?

  6. Seems like you are a real professional. Did you study about the topic? haha..

  7. ya'gotta'guessit says:

    Full agreement with the notion that directing a contribution toward a specific charity is the most effective use of your philanthropic dollar.

    That said, ‘nonymous’ comment does raise the question of how one avoids winding up on the sucker list – who HASN’T had their contact info sold and/or distributed about as the result of charitable giving?

  8. Dawgbowl says:

    Once in a while somebody makes the suggestion to empower American taxpayers to direct their tax dollars to the federal agency they want, the way they can select charities to support. It wouldn’t work, of course, but it’s a nice thought experiment. I wonder how many people would designate Congress’s payroll and health benefits?

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