Tag Archives: NGOs

A time to take stock of foundations


There are more than one and a half million non-profitable organizations in the U.S., according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics. These and other comparative numbers come from Form 990-PF, an annual Internal Revenue Service information return that includes data on excise tax liability, charitable distributions, administrative expenditures, as well as income statement and balance sheet information. The IRS recognizes seven different categories of tax-exempt organizations, including everything from your neighborhood church to behemoths like the Ford Foundation. Its assets are estimated at $11 billion and in a three-month period at the end of 2012 [it was changing its fiscal year], it gave out some $130 million in grants. The Foundation is exempt from federal income tax but does pay excise taxes on some of its investment. It is no secret that the Foundation, almost from its inception, generally promoted liberal causes – to the consternation of the Ford Family with its longtime ultra-conservative history.
It is against this background that the growing controversy over the William Hillary and Cheksea Clinton Fund has to be examined. Although the arguments about the Foundation’s activities have already crashed the parade of contenders marching for the 1016 election of a new American president, there are two fundamental issues that have got lost in the shuffle:
1] Were contributions to the Foundation by foreign countries and foreign nationals used as bribery to obtain the support of Mrs. Clinton as Secretary of State and/or her husband, a former president, in seeking special privilege?
2] Were contributions to the Foundation used to promote the particular interests and welfare of the Clinton family and some of its closest supporters and collaborators rather than a broader spectrum of philanthropic enterprises?
Neither of these two questions is unknown in the annals of other non-profits organized by politicians or their supporters. It’s not a secret that tax exempt foundations are sometimes used with high salaries and expenses to accommodate members of families or their associates. Nor have politicians been exempt. John McCain, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich, all have been involved in shady charitable organization problems. But none of these nor Mitt Romney’s Mormon foundation based on his family’s fortune became presidential campaign issues.
But Bill Clinton’s television appearances, less than his usual rhetorical genius, are unlikely to still the growing dispute over various aspects of the Clinton Foundation. Mrs. Clinton, of course, has thus far refused to discuss the issues publicly, and there is a suspicion that the campaign strategy is to hope that they will soon become old news, given the state of the world and the growing news spotlight on the bevy of yammering Republican contenders.
Whatever the outcome of the issue in the current public debate – and its role in the 2016 election – the problem festers and is one that needs national attention.
One way to achieve that would be for President Obama to appoint a presidential commission to examine the place of non-profits in our social, political and revenue system. Such a commission could well become the beginning of what is a general consensus that a complete overhaul of our tax code is an absolute necessity, but with suggestions on how to overcome all the political difficulties they would engender.
Obama might well accept such a proposal, if nothing else on the narrow political if unspoken belief he was extending some relief to his fellow Democrat contender and possible successor. The Clintons, of course, might accept it for just that same reason.
But despite these ulterior motives, such an examination under a bipartisan, prestigious group of public figures and experts would begin to unravel a growing problem of the increasing cognizance that the 16th amendment [the income tax] has failed to achieve its purpose and we need revolutionary solutions to reestablish social justice in funding the commonweal.
sws-05-04-15

Advertisements

Obama energy strategy: one part black magic, two parts propaganda


Again, and again, we must return to energy, the mother’s milk of the economy where the Obama Administration’s ham-fisted tactics are strangling the baby of recovery in the crib.

In his June 29th press conference, the President again singled out rebates to push U.S. fossil fuel production in his demand for tax increases for an economy already threatened by double-dip recession. The proposal compounds regulatory mischief: blocking oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico while Chinese and other foreign companies drill off Cuba almost within sight of Florida beaches, forfeiting 250,000 jobs. “Regs” threaten West Texas fields contributing 20% of U.S. new production because of an obscure lizard. The White House dallies over a pipeline to bring Canadian oil sands crude to Texas refineries. While Moscow pushes Arctic prospecting, Juneau can’t get Washington to open up 14.7 million acres of state land with the critical Alaskan pipeline faltering from declining throughput.

Mr. Obama’s token strategic oil release – into the international crude pool rather than reducing U.S. pump prices – was one more feint in Mr.

Obama’s ideological war on fossil fuels. [Never mind ignoring the reserve’s national defense character; it was never meant as a price instrument – nor political toy.]

All this is done under the rubric of protecting the environment. “Junk science”, as many highly qualified skeptics believe, may underpin claims fossil fuels consumption decisively impacts climate change. It will take decades to know, given our shallow data for changing climate through the ages.

But “junk economics” is all too evident in the Administration’s energy strategies. Granted, impediments to cheap energy were inherited from previous governments and imperfect markets. But Mr. Obama’s drive for “renewable sources” mimics earlier Carter Administration’s abandoned “alternative energy” skeletons still littering the landscape.

Mr. Obama’s wind power subsides are indeed producing jobs – for China and Spain – with transferred American companies’ technology. Chinese windmills and solar panels are exported to the U.S., often replacing American manufacture.

The vignette of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger entertaining the possibility of Chinese “high-speed rail” proposals with federal stimulus funds – just before California all but bankrupted — is quintessential of a mind set. High salaried propagandists for tax free non-governmental organizations [NGOs] promote “the environment” through advocacy of “mass transit”, citing China’s example. They fail to note deficit-ridden Chinese government railways – whose two top executives recently were arrested for stealing tens of millions – blackmailed European and U.S. companies for technology transfers in exchange for a phantom Chinese market. Now Beijing attempts exports while their own projects operate with anemic passenger loads — at lower speeds because of faulty engineering. The misrepresentation is all too typical of limitless, mindless propaganda pumped out on a daily basis, for example on that other Washington subsidized enterprise, National Public Radio, by the Obama cheering section.

In fact, a whole new era in fossil fuels is beginning. So-called “peak oil”, the crisis posited when diminishing reserves supposedly would meet rising consumption, has vanished. New vistas have developed worldwide with expanding deep-water drilling technology – a Norwegian billion-dollar floating platform in deep water off Rio de Janeiro, a good example. New fields await discovery in our own Gulf of Mexico – the less than cataclysmic British Petroleum oil spill notwithstanding. Recovering Iraq with the world’s second largest reserves, many yet untapped, is returning with 10 million barrels a day.

Even more spectacular, a new era for natural gas suddenly has emerged with new technology exploiting vast shale reserves lying deep below rock formations in a dozen countries, not the least the U.S. [An ironic comment on priorities: Beijing is investing government billions into American companies to get at that technology.] Of course, there already has been a half-baked university “study” by enviromentalistas arguing “fracking” – the process of getting at that gas – would poison ground drinking water. The study produces not a single instance nor does it explain the risk with most such deposits lying well below aquifers.

“Politically correct” spokesmen and the mainstream media promise black magic energy solutions, for example, electric cars, ignoring almost three quarters of our electricity for recharging batteries is met with coal and gas – much less the enormous costs and problems of grid expansion required for a massive changeover.

This conjuror’s trick has gone wrong; Mr. Obama is actually cutting the beautiful young lady in half as he cripples the energy sector.

sws-07-01-11