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January 2006

NCRP On Abuses of Foundations for Lobbying

NCRP:

WASHINGTON - The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) today decries the exclusion of Abramoff-type abuse of foundations and nonprofits from the gamut of lobbying reform legislation being debated on Capitol Hill.

"These legislative efforts ignore largely untraceable loopholes, which if neglected in this round of lobbying reform, would leave the charitable sector, Congress, and K Street ripe for more abuse and illegal behavior," said Rick Cohen, executive director of NCRP. "The Abramoff affair should be a clarion call to prevent politicians, their campaign staff, and their K Street cronies from cloaking dirty dealings behind charity and philanthropy," he continued.

I just hope our generous Funder, Rooster Foundation, does not get caught up in the mess. If rich people need to influence the press, politicians, and regulatory bodies on their own behalf we have to leave them some ways to do it, or they will become very frustrated. And when Candidia is angry, she will retaliate. NCRP may feel her wrath. If Rick doesn't watch out, Candidia may sic Martin Wooster on him. We are probably better off just giving her whatever she wants, rather than making her jump through all these hoops. If she were allowed to corrupt politicians legally, we would not need a Jack Abramoff and his foundations to do it for her. That is my opinion, but then again, I am on the take at $10 a post. (Don't I wish. I can't get the first dime out of these tightwads.)


Thinking for Money

Spartacus O'Neal on "The Movement." He sees not movement, but stasis.  He deplores the right's funding of  pseudo-intellectual work by its minions and minion-wannabees. He calls for funding from progressives to pay (I imagine) Spartacus himself and others like him to write and think for the public good.  My own feelings are different. The best minds in the right wing think tanks  do indeed want so many dollars per word or hour, and considering it their livelihood, will not part with their rhetoric for anything less than top dollar.  Of course they won't do it for free. It is killing their souls and their brains and their self-respect to write the stuff at all. Why would they trade their precious moments of sanity to produce more HQ orchestrated claptrap? We who are active citizens think for ourselves, and do it for free, indeed do it for fun, for recreation and to take our minds back from the media so polluted by paid-for hack work.  We have real jobs.  Those of us who are professionals work in a real house of fame. We don't need to get paid to "make a case" for some funder.  The Movement is an awakening of the sleepwalkers from all walks of life. It won't happen just because a paid person plays upon a Wordygurdy for $35,000 a year so he doesn't have to punch a clock at WB. The awakening passes from person to person like a contagion. I don't know how much longer the paid for thinkers, no matter how disciplined their message,  can keep us asleep. Or, better yet, they may soon put themselves to sleep.


Veneer(tm)

RTMark via UFOBreakfast:

The "transnational cowboy" days of venture capital are over. Today's cultural climate means increased attention to transparency, financial accountability, and public perception. However, these changes are met with increasingly fierce market competition. The contemporary consumer has more power than ever before. RTMARK's unique position allows us to aggregate capitalist tools and humanitarian ideologies in a process we call "Veneerâ„¢." Veneerâ„¢ is the utilization of pre-trend market indicators to fake corporate accountability, environmental protectionism, and social responsibility. RTMARK's assets, while valuable, are primarily a standing reserve of pre-trend market indicators.

What we need is a Veneer(tm) for social capital? How to monitor and monitize "citzenship"? Ask Abramoff?


Corporate Social Responsibility?

Corporations, conservative think tanks, and legislators push back against corporate social responsibility enforced by pension funds and other shareholder activists. As Candidia, our distingished Patron and Corporate Titan says, "Wealth Bondage will do whatever it pleases, Sweetie, if I have buy every think tank thinker and every politician from here to China. It is the Free Market, and if you don't like it, you can eat my pollution and die." What Candidia wants, Candidia gets. I have no problem with that, as long as she continues to fund Rooster Foundation which in turn is the proud sponsor of Gifthub. I would like to think I have some loyalty. Better to speak well of the devil than go hungry. Donor's intent is good enough for me. I would be a good citizen, but who has the time?


Donor Intentions and the Role of the Moral Discipline

In a capitalist society, those who have the money make the rules. If a donor's intentions are not served, the donor may not make future gifts. Yet donor intentions can be parochial, misguided, counterproductive, vain. Think of King Lear and his "intentions," how flawed. If the intentions of the wealthy, whether the money flows through commerce, corporate power, lobbying, or gifts are to rule us, surely each of us as a citizen has a stake in forming and chastening and uplifting the intentions of these brutes. Yet few do anything about the deplorable state of donor intentions. The only one I know to work at them systematically, spanking the donor until the intentions are less self-serving, is the Happy Tutor; people of better sense,  like Martin Wooster play the role of courtier, never questioning a modern Lear, only serving, like the dimwitted servant, Kent, or the Machiavellian daughters, Goneril and Regan. Such is realism. The likes of Cordelia, Lear's Fool, or the Happy Tutor come but once every few centuries. I wish I had their courage. I am lucky if I can keep my mouth shut, and go along to get along.  I dearly hope I can make a good living off wealthy people, stay respectable, and live in a real house. Let heroes work out of a dumpster or a stable. Me, I like my bread well-buttered. What Candidia wants, Candidia gets. Let the hidden hand sort it out. If I don't give her what she wants someone else will. It may be undignified to serve her vile intentions, but I have made that sacrifice and expect my recompense. The servant is worthy of his hire. (More on donor intent and Martin Wooster here at philanthropybeat. I hope Martin will respond in kind; I just wish I could afford another email from him, but gift blogging doesn't pay very well and I am behind on the rent.)


On Donor Intent - $10's Worth

Awhile back I offered think tank thinkers $10 for the first person to respond to a post on Donor Intent. Martin Wooster of Capital Research Center emailed me to claim his bounty. His note, bought and paid for with one five dollar bill and five ones, is published here with his permission,

Dear Phil,

Has anyone else claimed the $10?  I'm a freelance writer, and I need the money.

Sincerely,

Martin Morse Wooster

P.S.  Donor intent is and is not a liberal/conservative issue.  The most egregious violator of donor intent is the Pew Charitable Trusts, where liberals have seized control from conservatives.
The second most egregious violator of donor intent is the Barnes Foundation, where black Republicans seized control of a foundation founded by a social democrat.

I support donor intent for ALL donors, not just conservative ones.

As for writing for free--again, I make my living from writing and editing.  I give away all sorts of things (i.e. my contributions on philanthropy email lists).  But I try not to give away my livelihood.

I wonder how much an essay on generosity would set me back? I do appreciate Martin's good humored response to my satirical joking around. The Happpy Tutor, Dungeon Master to the Stars, makes his living spanking successful people in Wealth Bondage. He also gives away his livelihood, providing pro bono spankings of the wealthy and powerful. But Tutor is an exceptionally public spirited figure whose reward is a lifetime in a Dumpster. We ordinary mortals just get by as best we can, caging $10 here and there.