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October 2007

September 2007

Lockstep Left or Lockstep Right, Great Choices

John Dean, who recently completed a series of articles on the 'Impact of Authoritarian Conservatism on American Government,' laments the reluctance of Democratic candidates so far to raise "process issues" that speak to what has become of "the machinery of democracy," as Daniel Ellsberg cries "coup."

What some call "authoritarian conservatism" for others are community-based, grassroots, Christian family values. I recently read James MacGregor Burns on Transforming Leadership: The Pursuit of Happiness. A key point he makes is that a leader interprets the needs and wants of his or her constituents and plays them back legitimized within a framework of values that makes pursuit of those wants and needs noble or inspiring. For that you have to credit the conservative think tanks, speech-writers, and talk show hosts. I am doing some volunteer work with Commonweal Institute who take the point of view that progressives should all be "singing from the same songbook," one of our own. I prefer a Dumpster on the margins of the parade route, where I am close enough to hear the soundbites for either party and far enough away not to be rounded up and shunted to the free speech zones. I don't like command and control, but maybe that is just because I have had so much of it from a certain generous patron of mine. Some people, left and right, apparently, thrive on strong leadership. To each his or her own. I have found that most things in life generally work out for the best if you remember your manners and do not look into things too much.

Tides Offers Planned Giving Tools

Tides Foundation, a national progressive community foundation, now offers the tools and techniques of of Planned Giving or what Sean calls Tactical Philanthropy: Donor Advised Funds, Charitable Remainder Trusts, Charitable Lead Trusts.  Such tools are on the edge of two quite different "realms of consideration." On the one hand they are instruments for effecting social change (the realm in which Tides is expert). On the other hand they are tools and techniques within a donor's overall financial and estate plan (a realm in which Tides and most nonprofits have little or no expertise).  No donor is going to use such a high powered technique without first consulting advisors. So the challenge for donor, advisors, and nonprofit partners is: How do we create, donor by donor, a seamless process, or team effort, that goes from the client's overall goals and objectives, through an estate plan or financial plan,  to the appropriate charitable tool to accomplish a real world social result?  Call this communication, collegiality, professionalism, team formation, or leadership. Someone has to take responsibility for getting everyone on the same page.   Advisors will be gate keepers for such gifts or door openers depending upon how they are brought into the mix.  Early in the process is best, so advisors can be heard and offer alternative suggestions, as is their responsibility. From such dialogue can come larger gifts and more satisfied donors.

Holy Cards for Whiter, Brighter, Money Laundering

Holy_cards I run a legitimate giving blog here, as a front for a legitimate Wealth Bondage Bordello, serving the Wealthy in every aspect of their lives, but from time to time I like to give a little advice to those who run the big underground economy, the black market in drugs, weapons, off budget government slush funds, financial fraud, and the like, since that is what 30% of the economy,  or something, and a big part of philanthropy, presumably? Anyway, Holy Cards may be the money laundering tool of choice, a global Maytag. They are hard to trace, easily portable, change hands on a black market, and can easily be carried about as an alternative currency, when deals on the street, in the Board Room, in a foundation, or at the highest level of government go down. What cop, DEA agent, CIA agent, or Homeland Security agent is going to bust you for dealing Holy Cards?  See AKMA for the latest prices. Who would suspect a gentle theologian like that of being the kingpin of an international money laundering cartel? Legitimizing wealth is a big business. Who better than an Episcopalian theologian dealing Holy Cards out of the Princeton University Library? 

A New St Peter Martyr Holy Card

Peter AKMA:

You may recall that I have a particular devotion to St Peter of Verona, a/k/a Peter Martyr, as well as to holy cards in general; last week, I bid on and obtained (at a very reasonable price) a holy card in my favorite style depicting Peter Martyr.

What has this got to do with giving? Well, look at the knife in St. Peter's back.  Unless we honor the holy martyrs our young people will have less reason to imitate them. Plus, giving involves sacrifice as taught to us by the martyrs. Plus, holy cards make a good mission aligned investment for a church foundation, if done prudently, in  line with  the foundation's investment policy.  I am not sure what a St Peter Martyr in good condition goes for, but as the Boomers approach their twilight years and begin to think about the after life, I would expect prices to rise. (This is not investment advice. Consult your own investment professional to determine if Holy Cards are right for you.)

Manage Charitable Assets in Perpetuity!!! Make Big Bucks!!! How to Hold Down Grants and Keep Fees Growing!!!

Who loses when a trust or foundation gives money to social causes? See that guy at the big desk in the trust department reading the monthly reports on assets under management? In a well managed institution the money does not walk out the door.  Who, if a trust is pulled into a central bank from some punk town, will know the difference if the grants are slighted? Who represents the charities? And besides the founder may be dead, the relatives out of touch. It is all wealth bondage after all. (See article here by Stephanie Strom, in the NY Times, "In Big Banks Hands Trusts Often Give Smaller Grants." Thanks, David, for the link.)

Liberating You From Your Values and Your Valuables - If I May, Sir

  • Socrates said he was the wisest of men because he knew he did not know.
  • The Fool saith, "If the Fool were to persist in his Folly he would become Wise." (Wm Blake). Yet the wise pass the Fool by in disdain. They know better than mad William Blake; that is what makes them so wise.
  • Diogenes, dressed like a Thief accosts the passerbye,  "I am not here to impose my values on you, but to relieve you of your own." 

My fellow values-based planners, let us liberate our clients from their values as well as their valuables.