Federal, state, and local government underwrites the bulk of the cost to support vulnerable people in our society. But most of the actual services are delivered by nonprofits operating under government contracts or grants. With the stimulus money gone, large federal spending cuts looming, several years of recession, and an ever-growing pension and healthcare burden, how are these nonprofits faring? What do they believe the future holds for publicly funded services and for them? A recent Bridgespan Group survey explored the answers to these questions, discovering that while many nonprofits have thus far managed to survive the tough economic times with their government funding mostly intact, the bubble is set to burst.
We have two parties representing the one percent. The 1% need tax breaks for many reasons, too numerous to list, and those tax breaks will help us all - but not recently, not now, and not in the forseeable future. In the meantine, austerity must be shifted to the most vulnerable. Bridgespan reports on the crisis, but offers few if any solutions. In a flat world, optimized for capital, people die in the streets.
Fr. Brennan's last act, before he was defrocked for embezzling church funds to support his gambling habit, and came to work here in Wealth Bondage as a Family Wealth and Wisdom Consultant, was to forgive the sins of a triple bottom line (profit, status, and beauty) entrepreneur whose lovely computer tablets are made in a sweatshop in China. Several children employed at the assembly plant had died of overwork, and the entrepreneur felt bad about it, though it was not really his fault. Fortunately, the client is now deeply involved here in Wealth Bondage in building a Family Dynasty, and Fr. or former Father, Brennan has been instrumental in passing on The Family Values of industry, faith, and love to the dynast's heirs. Fr. Brennan continues to hear confessions, but more in the way of role play. Binding absolution we outsource to the chapel at the airport in Taiwan where we maintain a valid priest in residence, in 8 hour shifts, 24/7. We have an encrypted high bandwidth Skype connection for confession (or as we prefer to call it, the rite of reconciliation) long distance. Any penance required is provided at no extra charge. Reform is optional. Tips are appreciated.
Given my limited budget, I am wondering whether to join the Spiritual Directors International, or American Correctional Chaplains Association. Given my many international clients, I am leaning towards the Spiritual Directors International, but Prison Chaplain would allow me to minister to my ever growing flock of Lost Sheep. God takes more joy in a Hyperagent who rejoins the flock than in one thousand who never stray. Does Congress have any kind of Chaplain or Morals Tutor in residence? Or, the Supreme Court? The ethical demands on these people are incredible. We all want a moral paragon as president, or Supreme Court Justice, but are we willing to do what it takes to train them? I know they are Virtuous now, but so are you and so am I and we can all use a little help from time to time. Most politicians and Supreme Court Justices spend more time playing tennis, golf, walking the dog, or getting their hair trimmed, than they do improving their ability to resist temptation. Can this be good for us as a Republic?
Whether journalists should fact check politicians or merely take dictation is an open question with The New York Times. More relevant to this blog is whether Moral Biographers to Wealthy Patrons should check facts, raise eyebrows, or squirm in their seats, when Hyperagents, upon advice of legal counsel or public relations counsel, or guided by their own intimations of immortality, provide a moral self portrait so idealized as to depart from Reality. I have always made it a policy to respect my patron's delusions, illusions, and faults of omission and commission. "'What is Truth,' said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer." I always ask myself, What would Dr. Keith and Dr. Paul, authors of Wealth and The Will of God do? They are no Fools; why should I be? My Defense of my practice as a Moral Biographer follows Sir Philip Sidney's, in his Defense of Poesy, "Now for the poet, he nothing affirmeth, and therefore never lieth." I am a poet, like Dryden in his Panegyrics, patterned on those casting Roman Emperors, after the fall of the Republic, in the best light possible. A moral biography is understood to be a pleasing fiction, a rich man's folly. Besides, who is harmed by a Moral Biography? The readers are few; often only the Patron, or his Chief of Staff, or Legal Counsel reads it, for anything inadvertently damaging, and even then it is more often left to embelish the coffee table unread. It is not what the words say, true or false, that matter, most of it is boilerplate. It is the scent of the leather binding itself, and the sheen of the gilt edged pages, and quality of the photographs that make this Art.
I have sometimes wondered if we should begin our moral biogrpahies of our best clients in Wealth Bondage with, "Once upon a time in place far away, a (Savior, Prince, Princess, Foundling) was born whose name was _____________." For photos too we could have a screen painted with a hole for the client to stick his or her head through. "Rags" then "Riches." "Once was Lost" and "Now am Found." "Wastrel" and "Prodigal Returns." "Virtue" and "Rewarded." The efficiencies of reusing the same storylines and graphics would reduce our overall cost, and would allow us to expand the moral biography market to the class formerly known as middle. We could use, for example, "Riches" for them and then "Rags." First "Found" and then "Lost." Fortune's Wheel we could use over and over, turning clockwise and counter-clockwise.
What is not to like, a boot in your face? My lovely lovely boot! They should be so lucky. Americans, says the NYTimes are waking up to economic injustice? Morons! They have nothing because they are nothing. They deserve the shitty, rigged deal I give them! The weak perish and the strong prosper! Kiss my boots and be grateful! Well that is just one woman's take, but then again she is the goddess of the Free Market, the Queen of Wealth Bondage, the esteemed Author of Capitalism Versions 1.0 - 3.50, my beloved Boss, and the generous Patron upon whom Gifthub gratefully depends. I personally have no problem with injustice, I just wish I were the one dishing it out. Someday, through my own efforts, I too will become a pompous, powerful, wealthy, vicious, self-deluded, jerk. Then I too will extract billions from worker slaves, lobby Congress for personal and corporate tax breaks, give back pennies in philanthropy, get some high class PhD like Keith Whitaker to write my moral biography, some Discerning Professor of Ethics, or holyman for hire, to call me Wise and Virtuous and a Hyperagent, and some famous Man of All Work, to make my Family Dynastic, so it lasts 100 years, while the maids and butlers all sing Hosanna. They all will have to kiss my boots then. You too, gentle reader. It all comes out even, some sweet day. Meanwhile, to rise I must truckle. What goes around comes around, and boots it must be. My Leader calls and I must obey. Coming Mistress Candidia!
Fr. Brennan, the defrocked priest, is new with us. I overheard him rehearsing for a values-based planning call on an investment banker.
God is like a banker too. He created Adam and Eve, and set them up to fail. He bet for and against them. Their sin was a huge debt for which they had no collateral. So, God send his son as collateral, and by dying for our sins, created a credit line that is revolving, perpetual, and infinite. No matter how much you sin, God has already paid the price for you. He has you on The Auto-Bailout Plan. You can literally do no evil. Philanthropy is not atonement, or compensation, or love. It is not a duty. Philanthropy is an investment in the results you want to see in the world. Through philanthropy you become a Hyperagent, a god on earth, creating the reality in which other people live. Think of it as a bubble you can blow. And in that bubble all the little people live until it pops.
So far so good, but they don't call him Fr Tourrette for nothing. He then started wheezing and coughing, and in a wild voice invoking Satan as his God, shouting obscenities, confessing his owns vile sins, and intoning gibberish from prayers for the dead, rites of ordination, the blessing of the fleet, and exorcism. His raving slowed as he drank himself into a stupor. "Phil, he said, as I was carrying him back to his cot in the Bullpen, "I broke every vow I ever made, except the vow of poverty. Can you help me with that?"
Sample Engagement form (pdf) for spiritual directors. "Our time together is sacred," it suggests, but not subject to priest penitent privilege. Contents of conversations could be obtained by law or under court order. Likewise, while spiritual direction may touch on many topics, the client must "recognise that spiritual direction is not financial advice." Generally, for my wealthy clients, when I provide Morals Tutoring, I recommend that their attorney be present so that conversations be subject to client attorney privilege. Confidentiality, studies show, is the number one concern of the ultra-wealthy client. I would not recommend that they meet with a priest alone, for purposes of spiritual direction, unless they are making a real confession as allowed by law.
To support the Center for Action and Contemplation, by making a gift using the IRA Charitable Rollover Provision, please call your IRA plan administrator to arrange for a direct transfer to the CAC.
Here is one of the most gifted spiritual directors on the globe, who writes about death as a new birth, who writes about overcoming our shadow, and this is the best his site can do on legacy planning? Clearly, it is dated boilerplate lifted from some library of secular gift planning. It is as if the writer of the appeal had not read Fr. Rohr, and as if the Father had shunned the writer, and the writer's businesslike appeal. Yet, the donor? The donor in the second half of life, or in declining years, facing his or her own mortality? The donor perhaps near death contemplating action? Would it not be jarring to go from contemplation of faith, grace, love, sin, death and eternity, to this: "Call your IRA administrator to arrange for a direct transfer to CAC."
Question: How might we begin with Rohr's question about the human project, elicit the donor/client's story (or confession) and, after penance and the client's vow to reform and sin no more, and other whatever blessing or sacrament is in order, guide the client to making an age-appropriate set of life decisions, including giving decisions? I know a legit spiritual direction would consider this a come down, but for me it would be a big step up. Father Brennan (my defrocked colleague in Wealth Bondage Private Client Services could probably do the spiritual work at the appropriate level (low), but I am still groping for the business model. Maybe a direct transfer of donor assets to Wealth Bondage, with the interest paid annually to CAC? Minus a carrying charge? I think I should give Rohr a call. He many know some rich people. And I don't mean rich in spirit. I mean specifically Ultra High Net Worth Individuals (UHNW's). If Fr. Rohr handles the contemplation, effecitvely and efficiently, setting the donor up properly for the ask, then Father Brennan and I will seal the deal. And we will Steward the Gift in perpetuity in the WB Eternal Endowment Fund. Though flesh dies, interest accrues.