If it’s your money, you should be allowed to spend it as you see fit, shouldn’t you? Most Americans would agree you should have the freedom to dispose of your assets as you please. That’s the very essence of America.
If you’re feeling charitable and want to donate to the local opera house, that’s your business. If you want your money to be devoted to a particular charity or other cause, that’s your call, too. And if you want your money to be spent on specific causes after you die, that’s also your prerogative.
Take the case of the Florida Minority Community Reinvestment Coalition, a shakedown operation in Florida modeled after California’s Greenlining Institute. Both Greelining and FMCRC are obnoxious ACORN-like shakedown groups that annoy and harass their victims until they pay them to go away.
They argue that they should have a say in how your money is spent. If they prevail, they would undercut the idea of voluntary philanthropy and compromise the property rights of donors.
Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich has complained that too much philanthropy is devoted to “culture palaces,” including “operas, art museums, symphonies and theaters.” Donations to such institutions “aren’t really charitable contributions,” he argues. And because tax agencies are failing to receive taxes on the donations, according to Reich’s zero-sum calculation, “this gap has to be filled by other tax revenues or by spending cuts, or else it just adds to the deficit.” Some contributions are better than others, he reasons.
The Greenlining Institute is sympathetic to Reich’s arguments. In fact it went further and tried to get the California state legislature to enact a law forcing charitable foundations to publicly disclose the race, gender, and ethnicity of their board trustees and the boards and staff of their nonprofit grant recipients. It’s but a stone’s throw from mandatory race, gender, and ethnicity reporting to government directives on how charities should distribute their funds.
Big foundations in California paid off the Greenlining Institute to make it go away and the legislation was withdrawn but caving in to left-wing pressure groups never placates them, and now this California-style attempt at interference with philanthropy is spreading across the nation.
In Florida the Florida Minority Community Reinvestment Coalition (FMCRC) is gearing up to replicate Greenlining’s experiment. The group’s board chairman and public face is Al Pina, a transplanted Arizonan who describes himself as “a community reinvestment mercenary.” Pina, who boasts about his forceful techniques, seemingly has convinced himself that he is a David fighting financial Goliaths. “I was inspired by Robert Kennedy and how he stood up to the mafia. He stood up to the bullies. I like anybody who stands up to bullies.” Pina believes that people of a specific race take better care of other members of the same race than outsiders.
“No one can convince me that United Way provides better service directly to minorities than a minority-led organization,” he said. “We’re in the trenches. There is no way that [non-minorities] can connect and have more traction and effect than organizations with leaders who live in those communities day in and day out.”
Welcome to the balkanizing racism of Barack Obama’s America.
(Note: I wrote a paper published by Florida’s James Madison Institute on the subject of this blog post.)