Saturday, December 12, 2009

Following the Money Only So Far

My praise of Tim Carney’s reporting on cozy government-business financial dealings reminded me of a far lamer but far more common form of reporting: Leftists constantly write “follow the money” articles “exposing” the fact that conservatives are funded by other conservatives who have more money, as if (a) this is surprising and (b) leftist groups aren’t funded the same way.

For example, essentially all non-profits (not just political ones) are funded by donations, which tend to come from two groups:

1. people who agree with the non-profit

2. people who are insane and may have put money in the wrong envelope.

Though the second group is probably larger than you might think, group 1 accounts for most of the money.  There is no crime in this.  And I’m sure most non-profits, be they evil or good, misguided or enlightened, wish there were some giant source of impartial money that rained down out of the sky all day long, but instead you just hope people will like what you do and join the cause.

If all you cared about were raking in dollars, though, odds are you wouldn’t be in the non-profit sector in the first place (whether you’re right, left, or otherwise) but would be, say, running a franchise restaurant or something.  At some point, you have to stop marveling at the fact that money is changing hands and cope with the arguments being made.  Nonetheless, we will surely see many more articles in the future meant to make it sound suspicious that, say, Conservative Magazine A is funded by the Foundation for Conservative Magazine A, which was in turn created by Conservative Rich Person A and several associates of his, who also possess this thing called money, which can be exchanged for goods and services, some of them potentially filthy and impure.

And with that I’m off to see Tim Burton and Bauhaus exhibits at MoMA with Dave Whitney’s family and possibly Nybakken, and I expect some bunch of rich people — working in concert — are partly responsible for it all.


Tatyana said...

That’s the place I keep postponing to go to – to the Bauhaus Exhibition!

Can you write a short “worth it”/”meeeeh” post about it?

Todd Seavey said...

Worth it. The Tim Burton exhibit may have been even more interesting, though — and the architect in our group thought so, too (not that he complained about the Bauhaus exhibit). No extra charge for the Bauhaus one, though.

david said...

Heck yes, all worth it. As are the Monet water lillies. And I kinda wish I checked out the sculpture exhibit currently there too, but members of my party ran out of steam.

Dirtyrottenvarmint said...

Very late comment, but perhaps some portion of my purpose in life is to keep threads at alive. Once in a while.

Todd, group 1 is not homogenous. Indeed group 1 consists of at least two very distinct groups.

These are:

1A) People who agree with the non-profit because they actively and thoughtfully support its goals, as evidenced by word and action;

2A) People to whom the non-profit has lied in order to get their money.

When you are a small, struggling non-profit, there is a possibility that most of your support is from group 1A, and that you care about something besides raking in dollars (or the power they bring). The larger you get and the more successful you are at raking in dollars, the greater the probability that most of your donations come from group 2A, people whom you have bamboozled. It is a very, very rare goal which is supported by large numbers of people. Many people do not even like Chocolate, for goodness’ sake. The principle of Economies of Scale specifically does not, of course, apply to any venture which is not profit-maximizing.

The truth is that your typical nonprofit is exactly like a subway panhandler.* A few of them really do have kids at home and just want a little help to provide for the children and raise them right. The vast majority want your money so they can buy drugs, booze, and hookers.

* The many nonprofits which like to hire the typical uncouth and uninformed college student also often smell like subway panhandlers.