Above is a link to an article in which Mike Meyers proposes a radical new idea: no more nonprofits! Tax everybody: political activist groups, orchestras, museums, private libraries, educational funds, hospitals, religious groups, house builders, soup kitchens, and—presumably—orphanages!
But don’t worry, the institutions in question would be replaced by a far more able and democratic entity: the federal government. Yes, the same organization that couldn’t design a working website for Obamacare after a three year implementation period would be in charge of dispersing hundreds of billions of dollars for what it would consider to be “good works.”
Meyers has many criticisms about nonprofits as they currently stand under US law, some more reasonable than others. He complains about high-paid executives (a fair critique) and a lack of democracy in boardrooms and elitism (leading one to believe he’s never actually been in a boardroom before). Then he gets into “subsidization” and that’s where his arguments flail even more wildly.
While I’ve never believed in executives being paid in excess of their actual performance, Meyers doesn’t seem to really understand corporate governance. It’s a fact of life—the biggest stakeholders in an organization will always be on the board of directors because they have the most invested in its performance. That small donors don’t have as much of a say either individually or collectively may well be a pity, but in the end the real question is: what is the result of such leadership? Is the institution growing or stable? Is money being raised regularly and used properly? Are the officers honest and capable? If the answer to at least most of these questions is “yes” than who cares about “democracy?” Chances are all the smaller donors have other things to worry about anyway.
Meyers is also interestingly selective about who does or doesn’t get tax exemption. He sets his greedy eyes on churches—“where the real money is”—who all apparently possess vacation resorts and retail conglomerates. You know who else has similar investments? Labor unions which—as I’ve mentioned elsewhere—also own such resorts, hotels, golf courses, etc. And yet that’s one golden goose that goes unmolested.
And yet Meyers’s greatest fail in this matter is in not seeing the difference between generosity in the public and private spheres. When an individual citizen gives from their own pocket, they are choosing to be helpful to their fellow man. When a government “gives” it does so from the pockets of its citizenry, which must hand over their own cash or face imprisonment. You can’t measure a nation’s generosity or character by how much its government spends on assistance. The US is the most generous country on Earth because its citizens are the most generous, not the government itself.
As for his view of the democratic nature of government supervised “charity”, it is simply laughable. Inevitably, such money would be placed in the hands of bureaucrats who will—more likely than not—answer only to bureaucrats, all of whom can only be removed from the civil service by dynamite.
Meyers’s so called “solution” isn’t really one at all: its throwing more money at the government and hoping that will buy more competence from the same group of people who have made mistakes before.