beating up on donkey rescuers is poor form


If you ask me, this New York Times article is fairly asinine.  Is our collective decision to exempt the nonprofit sector from taxation a good idea? Well, I don’t know.  I think you can make a pretty good case that it isn’t — that the sorts of problems that charities try to solve would be more constructively handled with coordinated state action, and that there’s not much of a reason at all for exempting various types of membership organizations from taxation.

But the article really doesn’t get into any of that.  Instead it just talks about the large number of nonprofits, rather than discussing where the big tax expenditures actually lie.  Then they throw in some anecdotes about charities for donkey rescue and sending clown noses to soldiers, which, ha ha, sound pretty stupid to readers that don’t care about donkeys or clown supplies (but probably do care about various tax-exempt universities with big endowments and profitable sports programs (also tax-free) that’ve still been raising tuition much faster than inflation).

At any rate, we’re working on the nonprofit sector over at Subsidyscope, and will have more to say about it soon. But for now, suffice it to say that health care and education is where the money is in the nonprofit sector.  Podunk institutes and foundations that seem to be put together to secure prestige for their organizers more than to do good works might offend our sensibilities, but they’re not really costing our government all that much money.

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Tom Lee

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By Tom Lee