Saturday, May 19, 2012

There is a thing out there called a non profit corporation

 and many of them do a lot of charitable work. Many of these get no money from the feds, some of them get no money from the state or local governments while others I suppose get money from both.

Almost every one of these are charitable corporations and while some are most likely mismanaged and there is a certain amount of dishonesty involved, there are quite a few that are run well and do a lot of good work.

These non profit organizations pay no taxes. Neither do churches and I am all right with that because most of them are charitable organizations doing things that most likely ought to be done but I am rethinking the tax exempt status of the churches these days because many of them do not appear to be doing the charitable work that they used to but that's another thing in itself so I won't go there.

I have an old high school classmate that recently retired from a career as a social worker and right now she works at the local food bank which from what very little I saw appears to be a local non profit organization in the community it exists in.

While I don't know where the money comes from, I hope that most of it is local because I am an ardent supporter of grass roots community activity. There's a lot to be said for it.

One other thing, too. When a non profit outfit meets their aim they can simply either change their mission and keep serving the community in a different way or simply fold up shop until the need they were fulfilling comes around again. When the feds start something it seems to be forever.

Look at the federal wool subsidy. It was so there would be wool available for army uniforms in time of war. Thay haven't used wool in decades but the subsidy is still there.

Local grass roots organizations can move a whole lot faster and custon fit things for the specific needs of the community. They can work with each other and because they are working at a community level which is more personal they tend to share similar goals and are less prone to the complexities of empire building and politics. While these things probably do exist at a local level they are in no way as nasty as the dirty in-fighting that goes on in Washinton.

If the feds managed a local food bank there would be a whole lot of lazy staffers from somewhere else just sitting around doing nothing but collecting fat government paychecks and brushing off the people that they were hired to serve.

The next thing that would likely have to happen is that there would be massive paperwork to account for every can of beans that hit the shelves and we all know that those beans would have to meet the exacting government specifications before they can be handed out to some poor slob that just needs a few things until payday a few days from now.

Now because those beans are awaiting a government inspection of some sort to make sure they contain the proper nutrition they would simply sit on the shelf unissued and the poor slob that needed them would most likely be sent home hungry with a bunch of promises that in 60 days the official government report would be in so they could release them for consumption.

Most likely the local food bank can simply hand the guy a can of beans, loan him an opener and give him a plastic spoon and send him on his way, admonishing him to toss the empty can in the basket outside and not leave it in the parking lot for someone else to pick up. Laugh all you want, but that's efficiency. The man was hungry, the man was fed. It doesn't get more efficient than that.

The food bank my classmate works for gets a lot of the stuff from donations from both businesses and individuals. If someone comes in and applies for aid they are most likely going to leave with at least a few things to get them by. It would not surprise me to hear one of the workers there ask a food donor if she would mind dropping a bag of grub off to Old Mrs. So and So on the way home. Grass roots organizations can be that informal---and efficient.

Of course, if the government ran it there would be a deuce n' half truck standing by to see that the poor old woman got here bag of groceries delivered and there would have to be a truck driver with a CDL standing by to do this errand. Halfway to Mrs. So and So's house the driver would have to stop for his mandated lunch or coffee break and that'd kill another hour.

If I know my classmate I would be surprised to find out that every so often she didn't stuff a few bags into her car and drop them off on the way home at not much cost to anyone as she was headed that way, anyhow.

In short there are an awful lot of things that can be taken care of far more efficiently and far cheaper by local programs.

Quite frankly I wish the feds would go out of the damned charity business and go back to running the country more like a business and get us back into the black again. It seems that most of their charitable projects simply either do not work or are to big, cumbersome and slow to act or are so full of pork that it costs millions to do what a church or non profit organization can do for somebody's pocket change if left to a local control.

It would work a whole lot better and be a whole lot cheaper.

This reminds me. I ought to give the church a call and see if they are still making dinner a couple of times a month for the homeless shelter. I've been a little lax on things lately and I ought to get back on the stick and keep my right to complain by trying to do something about it to keep my bitching rights current.

After all, if you ain't part of the solution, you're part of the problem.

That is, of course, unless you are government because if you are the government then you are the problem.

my other blog is:


  1. Absolutely.

    My church runs a food bank, a thrift store, and feeds hundreds of hungry local folks several nights a week. The bible commands us to care for the poor... while also noting that the poor will always be with us.

    Charity on a local scale is more manageable, more personal, and more accountable. It also allows you to minister to a person's spiritual/personal needs in a way the government will not allow.

    It's FAR superior to an impersonal check that arrives once-a-month.

  2. You are correct in that our food bank does not receive any government monies of any kind. The difficulty there is that we do NOT have a steady and reliable revenue stream so we cannot always give out things like milk, fresh fruit and vegetables, cheese, etc (all of which we have to purchase). While we deeply appreciate all donations, they are often inconsistent (for example, people often do not donate in the summer months because they are on vacation or busy with their families) and sometime the pantry shelves are bare. Also, our food pantry has a social work component where we try to actually help people get back on their feet (we have an eviction prevention program, a utility shut off program, a mental health program, etc).
    You may not want to hear this, but I am terrified about what the Republicans are doing now. They are slashing programs that our elders and disabled people rely on. They want to cut great programs like Headstart for our pre schooler and many other programs for the poor. I have been in human services all my adult life and I can tell you that people are generally NOT lazy and fraud is NOT rampant. The image of the welfare queen that the media loves to throw around is a myth. Welfare does not even exist any more. It was replaced by a program called TANF or Transitional Assistance to Needy Families. This program has a lifetime cap of 5 years and most of the recipients are single parents without a job. I guess I do not understand how the GOP can leave their low tax rates in place, refuse to ever raise taxes on the wealthy, and insist on cutting vital programs to the poor. Most of my clients are WORKING poor who's wages have stagnated and who often are not offered or cannot afford health insurance.
    It is great to think globally and act locally. I believe that local charities are vital to the health of the community, but there is a role for government. Government really does need to improve things like infrastructure which would provide much needed construction job, improve the collection of child support from the absentee parent, increase fuel subsidies to poor families so they do not freeze in the winter (and help them insulate their homes), strengthen programs like HeadStart so poor kids get help with reading and social skills before kindergarten, improve the neighborhoods by planting more trees and demolishing dangerous and abandoned buildings, and maybe provide a lifeline to local charities like ours by making grants easier to apply for. Anyway, I worry that the GOP has demonized all poor people (and many middle class people) and squandered opportunities to genuinely help make this country great again. We do not need any more wars. The rich do not need to be richer. I am the most flag waving, patriotic liberal you will ever know, but I am disheartened by the vitriolic discourse in our media and the hard line stance some of our conservative politicians have taken.
    I pray that the Affordable Care Act is upheld by the Supreme Court (and only wish the President had gone farther and insisted on a single payer system) because no family should ever have to file bankruptcy because of medical bills no one should ever have to choose between medicine and food. I pray the President Obama is re elected and does better in him second term. In general, I pray for the future of this glorious country.
    With that
    With that rant over, thank you for writing about my work at the food pantry. I love my job and I love helping people.......we should all do some charity because it is good for the soul.
    Warmest regards,
    Your high school friend :-)