Thursday 22nd of August 2019

squandering gold to fight for the poor little squirrels...


The firing of Morris Dees, the co-founder of the S.P.L.C., has flushed up uncomfortable questions that have surrounded the organization for years.


By Bob Moser


For those of us who’ve worked in the Poverty Palace, putting it all into perspective isn’t easy, even to ourselves. We were working with a group of dedicated and talented people, fighting all kinds of good fights, making life miserable for the bad guys. And yet, all the time, dark shadows hung overeverything: the racial and gender disparities, the whispers about sexual harassment, the abuses that stemmed from the top-down management, and the guilt you couldn’t help feeling about the legions of donors who believed that their money was being used, faithfully and well, to do the Lord’s work in the heart of Dixie. We were part of the con, and we knew it.

Outside of work, we spent a lot of time drinking and dishing in Montgomery bars and restaurants about the oppressive security regime, the hyperbolic fund-raising appeals, and the fact that, though the center claimed to be effective in fighting extremism, “hate” always continued to be on the rise, more dangerous than ever, with each year’s report on hate groups. “The S.P.L.C.—making hate pay,” we’d say.

It wasn’t funny then. At this moment, it seems even grimmer. The firing of Dees has flushed up all the uncomfortable questions again. Were we complicit, by taking our paychecks and staying silent, in ripping off donors on behalf of an organization that never lived up to the values it espoused? Did we enable racial discrimination and sexual harassment by failing to speak out? “Of course we did,” a former colleague told me, as we parsed the news over the phone. “It’s shameful, but when you’re there you kind of end up accepting things. I never even considered speaking out when things happened to me! It doesn’t feel good to recognize that. I was so into the work, and so motivated by it, I kind of shrugged off what was going on.” A couple of days later, she texted me: “I’m having SPLC nightmares.” Aren’t we all, I thought.


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Picture above from The New Yorker circa 1960...

justice and poverty...

Justice and Poverty The Editors

Can we ever claim to have meaningful access 
to justice and the rule of law, when poverty is still so pervasive in Australia? According to research released by the Australian Council of Social Service (‘ACOSS’) in October this year, an estimated 2 265 000 people —12.8 per cent of all Australians — are living below the internationally accepted poverty line used to measure financial hardship in wealthy countries. This includes 575 000 Australian children (17.3 per cent).1 ‘In a wealthy country like Australia, this is simply inexcusable,’ said ACOSS CEO 
(and Alternative Law Journal contributor)2 Cassandra Goldie, when releasing the report.

ACOSS defines poverty as:

a relative concept used to describe the people in a society that cannot afford the essentials that most people take for granted. While many Australians juggle payments of bills, people living in poverty have to make difficult choices – such as skipping a meal to pay for a child’s textbooks.
In Australia, the term ‘poverty’ refers to people living in relative poverty: those whose living standards fall below an overall community standard. People living in poverty not only have low levels of income; they also miss out on opportunities and resources that most take for granted, such as adequate health and dental care, housing, education, employment opportunities, food and recreation.3

Similarly, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights adopts a ‘capability approach’ to define poverty, essentially considering the wellbeing of an individual and their ability to ‘do or be’ certain things.4 In addition to the concept of an ‘inadequate command over economic resources’, this approach identifies ‘basic capabilities that would be common to all – for example, being adequately nourished, being adequately clothed and sheltered, preventable morbidity, taking part in the life of a community, and being able to appear in public with dignity.’5

Any understanding of poverty should not be restricted to income.6 ‘[P]overty erodes or nullifies economic and social rights such as the right to health, adequate housing, food and safe water, and the right to education. The same is true of civil and political rights such as the right to a fair trial, political participation and security of the person.’7 In other words, being poor affects everything.


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the great divide...

charity starts at home...

The worst charity in America operates from a metal warehouse behind a gas station in Holiday, Florida.
Every year, Kids Wish Network raises millions of dollars in donations in the name of dying children and their families.
Every year, it spends less than 3 cents on the dollar helping kids.
Most of the rest gets diverted to enrich the charity's operators and the for-profit companies Kids Wish hires to drum up donations.
In the past decade alone, Kids Wish has channeled nearly $110 million donated for sick children to its corporate solicitors. An additional $4.8 million has gone to pay the charity's founder and his own consulting firms.
No charity in the nation has siphoned more money away from the needy over a longer period of time.
But Kids Wish is not an isolated case, a yearlong investigation by the Tampa Bay Times and The Center for Investigative Reporting has found.
Using state and federal records, the Times and CIR identified nearly 6,000 charities that have chosen to pay for-profit companies to raise their donations.
Then reporters took an unprecedented look back to zero in on the 50 worst - based on the money they diverted to boiler room operators and other solicitors over a decade.
America's 50 worst charities
These nonprofits adopt popular causes or mimic well-known charity names that fool donors. Then they rake in cash, year after year.
The nation's 50 worst charities have paid their solicitors nearly $1 billion over the past 10 years that could have gone to charitable works

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the spirit of philanthropy...

Philanthropy, benevolence, generosity, humanitarianism, public-spiritedness, altruism, social conscience, social concern, charity, charitableness, brotherly love, fellow feeling, magnanimity, munificence, liberality, largesse, open-handedness, bountifulness, beneficence, benignity, unselfishness, selflessness, humanity, kindness, kind-heartedness, big-heartedness, compassion, humaneness...

All good feelings to which we can add: Tax easement...



Maybe Huge Philanthropic Gifts Aren't What the World Needs

Unless we take a more scientific approach to philanthropy, we risk spending a lot of money doing some very backward, ineffective, and inefficient things.

We tend to think that philanthropy is good in itself. Giving money to those in need is surely a laudable act, worthy of praise and by no means criticism. But what if the ways we choose to donate money are misguided? To paraphrase the catchy title of a rather controversial book, what if there were ways we could do good — better?

Philanthropy advisor and author Caroline Fiennes thinks the way we do philanthropy is deeply flawed. To prove her point, she takes none other than Mark Zuckerberg as a (bad) example.

What's wrong?

In 2010, the Facebook CEO and co-founder announced in front of a live audience that he would donate no less than $100 million to fix the schools in Newark, New Jersey. The charitable act turned out to be a failure, as judged by one close observer, as most of the money was wasted and students did not get the support they needed.

Why did this happen? Simply put - because we do not know how to “donate well."

Not enough research is being done. Fiennes cites the only few studies available on donor effectiveness, which have all pointed to “leaks" in the philanthropy system. Money is squandered on hiring consultants, drawing up proposals, and managing grants.

We look too much into how worthy the receivers are of the donation, but don't investigate the effectiveness of the philanthropists. The negative consequences are suffered unilaterally. As Fiennes puts it:


“Funders are rarely punished for under-performing and usually don't even know when they are: if the work that they fund helps one child but could have helped ten, that 'opportunity cost' is felt by the would-be beneficiaries, not by the funder."



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The arts are great recipients of philanthropy, but GOVERNMENTS HAVE THE DUTY TO FUND THE ARTS especially from the bottom up. The Australia Council for he Arts' budget got cut by Bookshelf Brandis who took upon himself to distribute some of the cash to some of his cultural "friends"


We need the government to fund the arts properly with increase funding (this is not for me — I'm almost dead) for the younger generation of dancers, performers, musicians, painters, actors, etc — on an equal footing for women and men and LGBTis...




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