Friday, March 29, 2019

What is the role of non-profits?

The Special Olympics is in the news right now.  Betsy DeVos suggested budget cuts, and since it isn’t a government agency, she recommended cutting the $15 million it gets from the federal government.  I didn’t know they got any—but I should have.  It’s a worthy organization, doing a lot of good, and we contribute. For the last 50 years, the federal government has been “bullying” the non-profits, while also providing a large part of their funding.

"Until recently, our understanding of the development of the welfare state in advanced industrial coun­tries assumed that the hallmark of a progressive welfare state was a large public sector that regulated the private sector to a small residual role. In this view, the United States with its smaller public sector and larger private nonprofit sector com­pared unfavorably. The government contracting with nonprofit agen­cies calls the prevailing view into question. In the recent period, government has used nonprofit agencies to expand the boundaries of the welfare state in the United States in a host of service categories - from child abuse to domestic violence to homelessness. The result is a welfare state that is more expansive than would be the case if policy makers relied solely on the public sector." Political Science Quarterly, vol 104, no.4 1989-90.

This article is 30 years old, but the points still hold true--except for that part that non-profits don't have the bloated salaries of government workers. It wouldn't surprise me if the non-profit heads aren't making more than comparable level of government employees.

There is a revolving door in DC for one party's pooh-bahs to move to a non-profit when out of power, then be called back when they regain power. This really ballooned under GHW Bush--"Thousand points of Light."

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