The Nonprofiteer comes roaring out of seclusion to point out that big-bank donations to charity, and/or big banks’ making donations to charity mandatory among their employees, are NOT substitutes for big banks’ and bankers’ payment of a fair share of their earnings in taxes that support the operation of the United States government. (You’re welcome to translate “fair share” as “the 90-plus percent banker-bonus tax recently enacted in the United Kingdom.”)
While the Nonprofiteer is as enthusiastic as anyone about the work of the nonprofit sector–all of its work, whether advocacy or arts or higher education or social services–she hardly thinks that donations to the Metropolitan Opera and Harvard should be considered an appropriate alternative to making tax funds available for health care or schools or housing or child care–or even the military.
Taxation is the expenditure of our common funds on common purposes. Expenditure of private funds on private purposes–however worthy–is something else entirely, and the latter can’t be offered in trade for the former.
If the big banks want to dampen public outrage over the enormous bonuses they’re paying, they should take the simple step of not paying them. And, as they seem unlikely to do anything that sensible or decent, public criticism should be made law in the form of taxes and regulations to recapture the windfall profits the banks made with public money.
Charities are real entities with real work to do. We shouldn’t be treated as fig leaves for the worst excesses of capitalism.
And the Nonprofiteer certainly hopes we don’t hear from self-appointed sector spokespeople hastening to tug their forelocks and say “What a swell idea! Thank you, thank you, Goldman Sachs!” It’s not just the public at large: even nonprofits are better off with a government suitably supported by taxes than with a temporary infusion of tax-free guilt money.