Monday, April 12, 2021

Conversations: covid and (separately) nonprofits

 I did a few fun video conversations last week. 

This is a conversation with Ryan Bourne, Megan McArdle, and Alex Tabarrok on economics and the year of covid. Direct link if the above embed doesn't work. 

The conversation  is occasioned by the publication of Ryan's excellent book Economics in One Virus.  I am often asked for recommendations of general readable economics books. (i.e. no equations.) This is a gem. 

Then I had a nice conversation with Mike Hartmann at The Giving Review, link here with transcript, (slightly edited, please refer to that if you want to quote me. The above is just a screenshot, you have to go to the link). 

We explored my view that the US should eliminate the whole non-profit business, most of all the tax deductibility of contributions to non-profits, but also (less importantly) the non-profit corporate form. While many non-profits do a lot of good (my employer!) the system has become obscenely perverted, mostly as a tax-supported vehicle for political action, but also a tax dodge available only to the super duper wealthy, and a means of protection from the market for corporate control for flabby institutions. I trust that genuine useful charities will still attract donations -- maybe more -- from the substitution effect than they lose without tax deductions. 

I've long been meaning to gather facts and figures to see if this salty opinion makes as much sense as I think it does, and I'm glad to learn about Philanthropy Daily, a resource that will be helpful.

Oh yes also a great GoodFellows with Bjorn Lomborg on climate. I love talking to Bjorn. He has an extensive command of the facts and science, and he's still an optimist that facts and science will actually make a dent in this debate. As global warming moved to climate change to climate crisis to climate justice to climate risks (financial) I'm less optimistic, but hope must be let out of Pandora's box.  Also 

with Bari Weiss on media, censorship, free speech and assorted issues. Direct links, podcast  versions, and more all here

1 comment:

  1. Interesting thoughts on the for-profit charity issue.

    The regulatory compliance and personal liability of board members would seem to discourage new organizations from forming.

    Existing organizations spend tons on for-profit vendors for their compliance, insurance, private fundraising, etc... So how much is really going to charity if the hedge fund fees are 2-4% of the endowment annually?

    Since 90% of Americans don't itemize deductions anyway, it would seem overdue to fix the system, and a for-profit structure would encourage innovation.

    As it stands, "charitable giving" is often the super-rich donating stocks without paying capital gains taxes in order to reduce their other taxable income.


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