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February 2005

January 2005

Creating and Funding Progressive Infrastructure

Important paper from Commonweal Institute:

Creating Progressive Infrastructure Now: An Action Plan for Reclaiming America’s Heart and Soul (PDF – 75K), by Leonard M. Salle and Katherine A. Forrest, discusses the nature of political infrastructure, including the basic functions that a progressive infrastructure should fulfill, and suggests specific action steps and funding approaches.

The call for funding dovetails with work now being done by Tracy Gary and towards a progressive funding hub. Tracy, Katherine Forrest, and I will be together at the Momentum Conference next week.

Of Jackie Kennedy

What are the duties of wealth? First to improve the self, so as to be less coarse, vain, egotistical and grasping? Then to extend oneself and family wealth to those less fortunate? To undertake public service with an eye to those most in need? These are high ideals, not must discussed today, as AKMA reminds us, speaking of Jackie Kennedy:

Her life of privilege certainly made possible opportunities and achievements to which she’d never have access had she been born with similar gifts in rural Appalachia. At the same time, the braying golden asses to whom the Tutor so relentlessly directs our attention represent only one of the fruits of aristocracy; and given the benefits of privilege, Jacqueline Kennedy seems not only not to have wasted them, but rather to have extended herself to make her advantages into benefits for everyone, the true noblesse exemplified by the philanthropists who hang around at GiftHub).

Ask not what your country can do for you, nor how your selfishiness works through the market for the greater good, but how you can be better and do better for some ideal higher than commerce. Who today will sound such a note, in our "ownership society"? Most of the givers here are not wealthy. What we have to give is what JFK invoked, patriotism expressed in a life of service to others, including those most in need. Can we once again rise as a movement for social justice for all?

Annex to the Order

Charity Governance:

In response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack, President Bush issued an Executive Order
(September 21, 2001), providing, among other things, that every United States person is prohibited from making or receiving any contributions of funds, goods, or services to benefit of those persons listed on the Annex to the order
[this is a brochure and it may not be current, but it will provide you with some sense of the difficulty facing charities].

Apparently some tsunami relief organizations may run afoul of this order. $25,000 Prize Money

Thomas Kriese for

We'd like you to know Omidyar Network will provide $25,000 for the community of members to decide where the money ought to be invested.

How it happens is up to you. We'd love it if the community would work together to create a process to find/vet/decide how to invest the money. It would probably be useful to start the discussion on what this process might look like in a new thread (or even in a new group).

Maybe someone wants to make the first swing at it?

In a significant break with foundation top down philanthropy, the Omidyar's will award the money based on criteria, and a process created by and managed by the community itself at What? Yes, the people will decide, and will even decide how to decide. Go figure. Sounds like the lunatics have taken over the asylum. If this catches who knows where it could lead? Democracy, maybe. Were the Omidyar's to add a few zeroes, or ten, awarding many such prizes, as they could, they might revolutionize more than philanthropy. Who knows, maybe all those highly paid staff at the big foundations could be disintermediated by an online community? For better or worse?

Charible Giving as Impulse Purchase

Per the Wall St. Journal (subscription required): Wealthy individuals who gave money to the tsunami effort may be cutting back on other charities, according to a new study to be released today.(Via COF List Serv). Raises the question, doesn't it? about taxes versus giving as ways to address public good and public needs. How much money is needed for what purpose? How can the cost be fairly shared? How can the available funds be allocated strategically? The forces of compassion are strong, as is sentiment. But sentiment is a poor way to run a business, or a country. Surely, the WSJ readers can see that what we need is CEO level delegation and control, just as we do in business life. Sending ex-Presidents around with a begging cup, is a very poor substitute for fair tax and public servants dedicated, not to the ownership society alone, but to public goods and human needs.

Charity is often an impulse purchase. What we need is governance that makes wise decisions for the good of all and funds those programs with dollars extracted from the selfish and the generous  alike, based on their ability to bear the burdens of stewardship.