Don't believe in charities, the tax-exempt status for them, or their high-priced help

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NorthReport
Don't believe in charities, the tax-exempt status for them, or their high-priced help

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NorthReport

Charities are just another of the many, many ways the rich avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

It is up to our elected governments to redistribute the wealth, and our government health agencies to decide where monies show should go for health-related research. 

All charities need to be abolished in Canada

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

There's also the fact that the wealthy use their support of charities to make the case that it's ok for them to also keep buying elections for parties committed to destroying the social welfare system.

The real objective of the those who fund the Charity-Industrial-Complex is to lead to the end of most governmental social services and create a private alternative assistance system that forces those in need to bow and scrape to "their betters" and to listen to said betters finger-wagging lectures onf "morality" and "personal reponsibility"-concepts the betters, of course, always exempt THEMSELVES from having to follow.

NorthReport

A good example is Jimmy Pattison, probably the wealthiest individual in BC.

Instead of paying his fair share of taxes, due to all these right-wing governments that have systematically reduced taxes on the rich and on corporations, Mr Pattison donates money (and gets a reduction on what little taxes he pays), to the Vancouver Hospital so their board names a wing after him.

Big BC hero, indeed! Frown

Sean in Ottawa

I would not go that far.

Limiting them might be better--

Some people want to donate money to make an extra bit of difference.

Local direct service charities that deliver help directly to people should never be eliminated.

Arts charities-- what about them? Environmental charities-- we just let the oil companies have the field?

I'd get rid of state supported religion first. Let them be taxed on everything but actual charitable work.

The other problem with eliminating charities is that often they are a collective response to some social need. Without their advocacy the only spokes people would be corporate funded lobbyists.

Easy to think of the real nasty ones-- what about all the others you propose to throw away?

I do not think that a society should rely on charities for social justice -- I want progressive taxation and social programs to do the bulk of the work. But charities do have a place and at times they can shine a light on what is missing in public policy.

Also politics ebbs and flows. So are you really advocating that when right wingers are in government and cut social services that there be absolutely nothing left to help? That is what that would mean.

Unionist

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Some people want to donate money to make an extra bit of difference.

Fine - but why should it be tax-deductible? If I contribute money to the local chess club, it's after-tax dollars.

Quote:
I'd get rid of state supported religion first. Let them be taxed on everything but actual charitable work.

Explain why any contributions to anything should be tax-deductible. I never understood that. It's a direct social subsidy to the gift. It means that society supports that gift and considers it worthy. When did I get to vote on that?

Quote:
Also politics ebbs and flows. So are you really advocating that when right wingers are in government and cut social services that there be absolutely nothing left to help? That is what that would mean.

Very poor argument, with all due respect, Sean. If the right wingers are that powerful, they could wipe out all the do-gooder charities too. Your argument could be used to justify anything - arm the masses just in case the right-wingers get really bad - put all your spare money in pooled RRSPs just in case they wipe out the CPP/QPP and the private workplace plans - strengthen 2-tier medicine just in case the right-wingers wipe out medicare, so at least we'll have a backup plan...

I disagree with the very pith and substance of what you're saying, Sean.

Unions (something I'm familiar with) used to have their own benefit plans, pension plans, life insurance, death benefits, etc., when they were too weak to negotiate them with employers or force governments to institute them. Some unions, where the workforce is unstable (construction, etc.) still have some vestige of that, but unsurprisingly, like charities, they are all magnets for corruption. Should my union have its own pension plan and benefit plans for members, just in case the right-wingers wipe out all the public and collectively bargained ones?

You'll not be surprised to hear that my answer is, NO.

Humanity has reached the point where we can consider food, shelter, employment, health, and retirement security to be matters of entitlement, not charity or happenstance. Let's not descend the evolutionary ladder. Down with charities!

Jacob Two-Two

http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/hist_texts/wilde_soul.html

 

"But this is not a solution: it is an aggravation of the difficulty. The proper aim is to try and reconstruct society on such a basis that poverty will be impossible. And the altruistic virtues have really prevented the carrying out of this aim. Just as the worst slave-owners were those who were kind to their slaves, and so prevented the horror of the system being realised by those who suffered from it, and understood by those who contemplated it, so, in the present state of things in England, the people who do most harm are the people who try to do most good; and at last we have had the spectacle of men who have really studied the problem and know the life - educated men who live in the East End - coming forward and imploring the community to restrain its altruistic impulses of charity, benevolence, and the like. They do so on the ground that such charity degrades and demoralises. They are perfectly right. Charity creates a multitude of sins."

 

Doug

I disagree. Government can't and won't do everything - cannot even be aware of all the possible local needs there are - and so there will always be a place for charity. That is not to say that the philanthropy of rich individuals somehow legitimizes vast inequalities of income and wealth.

Michelle

I mostly agree with the opening arguments about charity vs. social justice.  I'll take the latter any day.  But what is up with "their high-priced help"?  I hope that's not referring to their employees, because charities often pay quite low wages.

And well-meaning progressives can often encourage this, by demanding that a charity's administration costs be extremely low.  Well, people's salaries are included in those administration costs.

Unionist

Doug wrote:

I disagree. Government can't and won't do everything - cannot even be aware of all the possible local needs there are - and so there will always be a place for charity. That is not to say that the philanthropy of rich individuals somehow legitimizes vast inequalities of income and wealth.

What about tax exempt status? If I want to decide individually who needs extra help and who doesn't, why should I pay less tax than you?

KenS

Good striaght up libertarian argument U.

 

The argument of charity versus social justice, and the argument for and against tax-deductible status only overlap. And barely.

There is no difference at all in tax decuctible status between a 'charity' and environmental and other social activist NGO's. It would be very difficult to draw a legal line between the two.

And guess which ones would have the tax deductible status withdrawn if we put it to Canadians?

You'v got a great script going for another right wing initiative. Maybe the Cons havent thought of this yet. Though their warm up yakking as they bring up the issue, it looks like they have. You could always ask if they want some assistance from the left.

KenS

And why do you think the Cons are floating making it harder to do advocacy work and keep chartitable status?

They know that their friendlies would be caught up in that too. Maybe even more so in dollars terms.

But take tax deductible status away from conservative advocacy groups and my local environmental NGO that holds governments feet to the fire.... and guess which ones will get the body blow.

Slumberjack

I'm thinking local food banks and shelters.  My understanding is that they usually operate from hand to mouth donations at the best of times.  I also recall accompanying someone to a job interview for moral support at Care Canada in Ottawa.  Their HQ was a beautifully appointed glass tower, populated by people wearing designer clothing and gleaming jewellery.  Everything had it's own artificial smell.  I think most lower to medium income bracket earners who donate to charities don't do so in order to reap the benefit when tax season arrives.  Corporations and the wealthy on the other hand have an established track record of exploiting every possible angle to avoid owning up to their societal responsibilities.  Most certainly the tax code as it pertains to charitable deductions was designed with them in mind.

KenS

It was. But not only with them in mind.

And the fact it most advantages the rich [what doesn't?] is not at all mutually exclusive with the fact that if you withdraw tax deductability it is the small NGOs that will be devastated, not the Fraser Institues.

And as a fundraiser for NGOs, I absolutely guarantee you that with the middle income earners who are our bread and butter, the tax deductions are decisive.... even where it is nowhere near the main reason people donate.

Unionist

KenS wrote:

Good striaght up libertarian argument U.

Funny, I want all these necessary services run socially, as opposed to leaving them to individual choice (along with a tax-back subsidy to boot) - and this is your notion of "libertarian"??

I had a feeling my old dictionary was out of date. Thanks for the heads up.

Quote:
There is no difference at all in tax decuctible status between a 'charity' and environmental and other social activist NGO's. It would be very difficult to draw a legal line between the two.

You're so wrong. The Cons are doing that right at this moment, in case you haven't noticed. Anyone who spends too much time doing "advocacy" will be cut off at the knees. Anyone who flogs Jesus, Yahweh, and Allah as your saviour - well, that'll be just fine.

Or did you think the right-wingers are getting ready to starve the churches of funding and laugh while they crumble?

Society should collectively determine what institutions are worthy of special funding, and then it should give them grants accordingly - not leave it up to the invisible hand of the market, as to who can attract wealthy patrons.

 

 

Unionist

Sorry, I forgot to provide this link. Harper is preparing to crush any charities that do too much "politics". Not the religious zealots. Politics:

[url=http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/federal+government+picked+fight+... the government picked a fight with charities[/url]

Quote:

In the mid-1990s political scientists Jane Jenson and Susan Phillips lamented what they saw as the erosion of a citizenship regime in which governments recognized the value of civil society organizations, even when those organizations clashed with the government of the day. The decision by the Harper government to step up its attack on advocacy, and punish groups seen as left-leaning or progressive, is a dangerous slide into a world in which advocacy only matters if it coincides with the political agenda of the government in power.

So as you see, under current rules, the government has no difficulty at all deciding who will live and who will die, while pretending that it's all just about making sure they're doing truly "charitable" work.

 

KenS

That ws outrageous cherry picking of my own arguments and yours Unionist. Not interested in playing your parlour games today.

Among other things:

Unionist wrote:

What about tax exempt status? If I want to decide individually who needs extra help and who doesn't, why should I pay less tax than you?

KenS wrote:

Good striaght up libertarian argument U.

 

Before you made it, I made exactly the same point about what the Harper government is up to. So what or whom are you correcting.

Unionist

KenS wrote:

That ws outrageous cherry picking of my own arguments and yours Unionist. Not interested in playing your parlour games today.

I made exactly the same point about what the Harper government is up to.

Ken, we seem to be in violent agreement about the danger of what Harper is up to. But in your response to me, you opened with these salvoes:

KenS wrote:

Good striaght up libertarian argument U.

KenS wrote:
You'v got a great script going for another right wing initiative. Maybe the Cons havent thought of this yet. Though their warm up yakking as they bring up the issue, it looks like they have. You could always ask if they want some assistance from the left.

Not sure what I said or did to warrant any of that venom. So, my recommendation is that we start over and try to have a civil conversation, which (scroll up and check) is what it was until you weighed in.

 

Unionist

Slumberjack wrote:

I'm thinking local food banks and shelters.  My understanding is that they usually operate from hand to mouth donations at the best of times.  I also recall accompanying someone to a job interview for moral support at Care Canada in Ottawa.  Their HQ was a beautifully appointed glass tower, populated by people wearing designer clothing and gleaming jewellery.  Everything had it's own artificial smell.  I think most lower to medium income bracket earners who donate to charities don't do so in order to reap the benefit when tax season arrives.  Corporations and the wealthy on the other hand have an established track record of exploiting every possible angle to avoid owning up to their societal responsibilities.  Most certainly the tax code as it pertains to charitable deductions was designed with them in mind.

Sorry, in the flurry of activity, I forgot to say:      

KenS

You doofus.

Read the libertarian quip I made. It directly follows your short libertarian comment.

My reference to the scrpit goingin this thread was not directed at you in paricular- but at the general thrust of the thread, especially the OP, but you have contributed.

BTW, my keyboard is not set for French, but its doing this: È è É é for the quote mark and question mark and back slash keys. But only here, not in the Word doc I am working on. What might that be (question mark here). It also does ^^ ¨¨ ç Ç instead of the bracket key.

Unionist

Jacob Two-Two wrote:

http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/hist_texts/wilde_soul.html

 

"But this is not a solution: it is an aggravation of the difficulty. The proper aim is to try and reconstruct society on such a basis that poverty will be impossible. And the altruistic virtues have really prevented the carrying out of this aim. Just as the worst slave-owners were those who were kind to their slaves, and so prevented the horror of the system being realised by those who suffered from it, and understood by those who contemplated it, so, in the present state of things in England, the people who do most harm are the people who try to do most good; and at last we have had the spectacle of men who have really studied the problem and know the life - educated men who live in the East End - coming forward and imploring the community to restrain its altruistic impulses of charity, benevolence, and the like. They do so on the ground that such charity degrades and demoralises. They are perfectly right. Charity creates a multitude of sins."

 

What a great article by Oscar Wilde! Where did you ever find that? I obviously need to read more...

 

NorthReport

When someone gets paid  a million dollars for running a charity something has gone wrong as that is much less a charity and much more a scam. And we give tax donation receipts for that. 

Unionist

Ok. First of all Ken, I apologize - I may have misread your comments and will take them in the collegial spirit in which they were obviously intended. And clearly your direct involvement with an environmental NGO will give you a perspective that I don't have.

Further, my statement which I tossed out earlier: "why should anything at all be tax-exempt", was just my usual provocative way of starting a discussion. I did not and do not advocate making all contributions of any kind taxable. For example, contributions to political parties, payment of regular dues to trade unions (though other contributions, if we were ever lucky enough to get them, are after-tax), and other such very specific situations where provincial or federal parliaments have seen fit to facilitate, or encourage, specific donations which are rightly or wrongly deemed to be for the public good. And yes, I fully recognize that such determinations are subject to the political winds of change.

I guess I don't know all the rules which currently operate to provide a private organization with tax-exempt status - and I don't even know what the different implications of tax-exempt status are. Contributions? Income? Property tax? etc. I'd love to be enlightened on that score.

But before I go too far, I also wanted to give a thumbs up to Ken Burch's first post above.

KenS

Harper is working on drawing a new line. But its not the same as the one that is being talked about here of actual normal meaning of the word charities, versus everything else.

The line that Harper wants to draw is around political advocacy work, not around whether it is a charity or not.

And the reason they can easily do that (barring inevitable court battles if they do), is that the tax code already says you cant do political advocacy. So its a question of discretion of interpretation and enforcement.

In Canada, NGOs that do advocacy have always had to be concerned and possibly wary about that grey area. Ironically, in the US there are no such concerns (and I think the tax codes may even say something similar).

Maysie Maysie's picture

Having spent the last 20 years in the employ of service-oriented charities, not-for-profit and government funded organizations, I became very sad reading most of the posts in this thread.

While I agree with the "tax haven for the rich" argument in principle, if one has spent any time working in a non-profit or charity structure that offers direct service, one would see that all charities can't be lumped together. 

There are no glamourous art openings in front-line service providers' work.

Fundraising is the biggest challenge for funded organizations, especially those that deal with issues that are not considered interesting or worthy. As many of you know I worked in women's services for 5 years as a front line staff, 2 years as a manager, and continue to work with these and other organizations as a consultant. Huge slashes took place in Ontario during the Mike Harris reign, this funding was never reinstated by McGuinty. This of course was a political decision, and in fact, the work of anti-violence organizations could be considered political and it damn well is.

So is the work of the Fraser Institute and Macleans Magazine, both of whom get public funds.

Other organizations I've worked with include AIDS service organizations, community health centres and immigrant/settlement services.

As for the principle of charity versus social justice, of course I too favour the latter. There are many, significant critiques of the charity model and the non-profit industrial complex. (Both of those links are to U.S. references, but there are many parallels to the Canadian system)

I completely agree with Michelle's argument (stated way long ago, not in this thread) about the "illness" charities/foundations. Hospitals are loaded with money, and have many advocates, and a huge, deep charity structure with their foundations, connections to university alumni and big-name deep-pocket donors. They don't need Joe Schmoe's $100 donation.

But going back 100 years or so, prior to the structure of having the government fund various what are now called charitable services, it was a hodgepodge of individuals, churches and well-meaning middle class white ladies who provided charity in the form of money, food, clothing, etc on a judgmental and problematic basis. Some people were judged worthy of receiving the less-than-bountiful handouts, others were not. The current system, while deeply flawed, is preferable to that.

The idea of a donation being tax-free is to encourage donations from everyday people who have a bit to donate. Absolutely it gets the government off the hook. Perhaps the system wasn't designed for such folks, however, it makes a difference as non-profits and charities are trying to wean themselves off government funding, and as larger proportions of their revenues are being derived from individual or corporate donations.

My view is that such services should be provided the way healthcare is: available in as many communities as possible, store fronts, community health centres, hospitals, with a wide range of services and fully funded. Well, at least the way health care used to be. 

Sean in Ottawa

Unionist my problem with your position is that it is a contradiction in my view between what is a practical reality and what is theoretically best such that it becomes an invitation to the worst of both worlds. Perhaps I am misreading you.

We have a right wing government that does not accept that it is up to government to do many of the things needed to help the most vulnerable. There is the theoretical argument that if charity will do those things the government will step back. So there is a tension between doing things the wrong way: charity and the right way: tax-supported. That tension is caused because these are urgent and necessary things. We cannot remove these secondary supports knowing that we cannot rely on the government to be there. I have always advocated for the right way, while recognizing that somethings need to get done in the meantime any way possible. Unless you can imagine a perfect political world where those who believe in public good always win and they always do the right thing, you need some charity as well.

My second point is that even if you cover most things in the right way, that works in theory but not in practice-- there will still be things that are needed to filling in gaps and provide alternatives. In some cases that might be a charity to provide some stopgap of culturally appropriate care when the system makes a mistake. Unless you can imagine a system never making a mistake you need some charity.

My third point is also in the above contexts. Government is to speak for everyone but it almost never does. Business is always going to be okay because it has the power to speak in groups or alone because it controls the capital to do so. It can take care of its interests whenever government fails and in fact it has a greater degree over government than people do. Ordinary people if they want to even talk to each other need to band together somehow. Charities often provide that for ordinary people. they allow people to pool some money to achieve their ends without paying full taxes on the way. The tax reduction (it is not 100%) is an acknowledgement of the value and process of getting together in this way and it allows smaller voices to come together when in the real world we might only hear a corporate interest.

People donate to charities in part because they feel their own ability to make direct change is insignificant and they are encouraged both by the increase in value provided by the tax status and the collective value of coming in to one enterprise to do so. There is also the reality that there is a perception that those with tax status have some kind of oversight. This gives confidence. I am helping someone with a legal case where an enterprise claimed to have charitable status and in fact did not have so the person was unable to use the tax receipt. The complaint made for this person was two-fold-- one the value of the contribution was reduced and secondly that the charitable status was a social acknowledgement that the organization was legitimate and doing something of value.

I am all for public policy to prevent abuse. I am very much an opponent of the government downloading to charities identified activities that ought to be handled by the public. But I am also aware of the good charities can do-- my union even donates to some in addition to our individual contributions. I am also aware of the value these organizations bring that goes beyond the essential to the desirable. There are activities the government should go alone with, there are some it should not touch and there are some that it can encourage leaving people the option of choosing what they want to do knowing that this choice will encourage more participation.

I found the position against charities simplistic and unrealistic as well as a denial of the role they current play. I am very interested in reforming them. I am not a supporter either of the complete ban on political activity as it prevents on-the-ground organizations from speaking truth to power. I recognize the delicate balances of power in this discussion as well as the philosophical elephant in the room when it comes to a right wing approach that reduces social human rights to charity.

Grandpa_Bill

Some of you will know the distinction that William Sloane Coffin, drew between charity and justice.

"Had I but one wish for the churches of America I think it would be that they come to see the difference between charity and justice. Charity is a matter of personal attributes; justice, a matter of public policy. Charity seeks to eliminate the effects of injustice; justice seeks to eliminate the causes of it. Charity in no way affects the status quo, while justice leads inevitably to political confrontation." - The Rev. William Sloane Coffin, Jr., from his book Credo.

Coffin was an Episcopal minister in the States. There have been many discussions of charity and justice, both inside and outside churches. This thread is one of them.

Coffin knew that thinking intended to get at the truth was, in itself, a painful process. As he put it, "To be avoided at all costs is the solace of opinion without the pain of thought."  Were he here reading the comments of this thread, he would feel, I believe, that the discussion would benefit if people were a bit gentler with one another.

Here are a few other quotes from Coffin:

"When we live at each other's mercy, we had better learn to be merciful."

"There is no smaller package in the world that that of a person all wrapped up in himself."

"If your heart is full of fear, you won't seek truth; you'll seek security. If a heart is full of love, it will have a limbering effect on the mind."

 I have no comment of my own -- just want to thank all who are taking this important subject seriously.

Unionist

Sean: If you re-read my posts, you will find that I did not argue for the elimination of charities. My concern was twofold: 1. Private provision of services which society considers essential. 2. Tax-free or tax-reduced contributions. The former is, I think, contrary to everything progressive people have fought for since forever. The latter is problematic, first because it benefits the rich donors, second because it leaves it up to individuals to pick and choose. When it comes to socially necessary goods and services, how can we justify that?

As for charities just filling in the "emergency" gaps, that's not our historical experience. In Québec - for centuries - education and health care were provided, primarily, by the Roman Catholic Church. That reality was abolished, virtually overnight (in historical timelines), with the Quiet Revolution and subsequent initiatives flowing from that, as well as the Canada Health Act.

Ronald Reagan preached "volunteerism" as a noble and desirable alternative to the nanny state. Of course, that was never the approach taken when the wealthy or the corporations or the military were in need. Only workers and poor people.

I always wanted discussion about the kneejerk contributions (or mobilizing members and reps to contribute) that my union made to Centraide (you call it United Way?) and other such campaigns. I always promoted contributions, instead, to donation appeals by workers on strike, students, solidarity organizations, etc. - people in struggle. Most of those don't come with tax receipts attached. Get my point?

I'm not calling for the elimination of charity or self help. I'm calling for a serious discussion about (a) what direction our society needs to take; and (b) the most effective way of countering the Harperite attack, not on "charities", but on any hint of dissent in our country.

 

Sean in Ottawa

I cross-posted with Maysie.

I agree with her perspective as I am seeking to strike a middle ground that recognizes

1) the problems with charities being tax payer interference from the already privileged

2) the problems with government relying on charities to back away form public responsibility

while still recognizing

1) the value that they can provide especially filling in gaps or providing alternate voices

2) that some of these are effectively collectives that need this support in order to do what they do

and understanding

1) that charities frequently are judgmental and are activities not accountable for fairness and balance

2) that almost everything is political when you recognize that power is political

For example: A shelter for abused women and children is a charity. It can also be defined as political in that it is trying to change in practice a power structure (both in a society, community and in a home)

That shelter may well be informed and want to express based on its experience better legislation (now that would be considered a political activity).

That shelter needs every penny it gets and any value of the tax exempt status is therefore crucial to its survival even if it is not the primary reason for most of its donors. That is one example-- there are anti racist, anti-poverty charities as well as those that seek to raise money for causes that have touched some people directly who want to share their experience. And yes there are arts charities as well supporting the work of people who get paid very little.

So there are concerns both practical and philosophical and there are needs and there are abusers and what is needed is some balance.

Sean in Ottawa

Sorry Unionist-- you did argue that and I did reread your posts and that is the premise of this thread -- read post one and read your post #5.

Sean in Ottawa

Also @Unionist--

I too stopped donating to Centreaide/United Way -- I donate instead to the Canadian Health Coalition which is not a charity so I get that point. I also support individual efforts constantly. BTW-- The CHC is a very worthwhile organization that takes in a lot less money than they deserve because they do not have charitable status-- if anyone here has an extra few bucks a month to support the best national voice on health care (in my view) please consider supporting them. Shameless plug-- go to: healthcoalition.ca

The historic reliance on charity is a reality but that does not change anything I said about where we should go in future.

When you frame your discussion as you did in your last paragraph of post #27 you find that we are in total agreement. However, that was not the impression I got from your earlier forays into this thread...

 

Sean in Ottawa

Very good questions @ Ken Burch and exactly what we should be trying to address--

Unionist

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Sorry Unionist-- you did argue that and I did reread your posts and that is the premise of this thread -- read post one and read your post #5.

Yes, NorthReport said it. And you must be referring to my "Down with charities!" finale, but that was just a rhetorical crescendo. But do you seriously think I'm arguing that we should close down food banks today and embarrass the government into filling the gap? That's not my argument.

Anyway, this whole thread is too confusing, because it mixes up food banks with shelters with environmental advocacy NGOs... The word "charity" doesn't capture them all, and the challenges they represent are different. I think the most urgent task facing us is to discuss the Harper government's crackdown on dissent.

By the way, I still haven't heard Ed "I love to hear the sound of my own voice" Broadbent condemning Harper for shutting down the organization he headed.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Is it possible, somehow, to create a progressive, even radical alternative to the current models of "charity"?  Is there someway to create a voluntary sector that is free of the kind of state controls Harper is trying to impose(in his attempt to reduce charity to the old days of VIctorian sanctimony presented as "help")?

Is there someway to make a kind of new neo-charity that is about creating practical models of a humane democratic future as well as providing the sustenance of life in the present, and of helping people without demeaning them?

Obviously, there needs to be some way of keeping the destitute going when the state turns its back...but how to do that without having the help be tied to teaching said destitute to be obedient to the masters?

Just wanted to throw these questions into the debate.  This might also be something the NDP could spearhead if it wants to make a case that it isn't just an old time social welfare party(not that the social wage shouldn't be passionately defended, but this is a possible way to show that the party is willing to be open to other methods as well).

NorthReport

I am not trying to suggest people stop helping others, far from it, and I would appreciate if some people would stop twisting things around to score cheap debating points.

But when I hear of a CEO of a charity raking in a million dollars in wages, there is something fundamentally wrong with the system. And I do not think we should be giving these kinds of organizations tax breaks.

Nor do I think religious organizations should be eligible for any kind of tax breaks, although I personally happen to participate in one.  

And yes I like what Ken Burch suggested above.

contrarianna

Unionist wrote:

By the way, I still haven't heard Ed "I love to hear the sound of my own voice" Broadbent condemning Harper for shutting down the organization he headed.

I'm not sure if that was a dig at B. for his reaction, but you might appreciate his comments on hearing them.

As for his general position on its closure although B. said it was "a sad day" he also said "probably a good thing" it was closed because of (not B's exact words) its earlier death by the insertion of Harper's poisonous supposiTories.

http://www.cbc.ca/video/#/Radio/1447825254/ID=2219069257

Sean in Ottawa

Unionist wrote:

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Sorry Unionist-- you did argue that and I did reread your posts and that is the premise of this thread -- read post one and read your post #5.

Yes, NorthReport said it. And you must be referring to my "Down with charities!" finale, but that was just a rhetorical crescendo. But do you seriously think I'm arguing that we should close down food banks today and embarrass the government into filling the gap? That's not my argument.

Anyway, this whole thread is too confusing, because it mixes up food banks with shelters with environmental advocacy NGOs... The word "charity" doesn't capture them all, and the challenges they represent are different. I think the most urgent task facing us is to discuss the Harper government's crackdown on dissent.

By the way, I still haven't heard Ed "I love to hear the sound of my own voice" Broadbent condemning Harper for shutting down the organization he headed.

Heard him last night on CBC radio-- he was good actually. And yes, certainly condemnation-- he was pointing out that the whole point was independence and therefore there is no way the mandate could be covered by Foreign Affairs. It was a good interview.

Sean in Ottawa

North Report and Unionist--

I can only go by what you said upthread and that was what I was responding to--

I think there is no debate here now that you have changed or clarified your positions-- people know charities have been politicized by this government in particular and that there are serious abuses. People know the system is broken. Still the opening statement was "All charities need to be abolished."

Then from you Unionist, "Explain why anything needs to be tax deductible"

I appreciate that people's opinions in discussions evolve but please let's not pretend there was no evolution here. The thread opened with categorical statements that elicited a response from people with a more nuanced view. To disclose a view almost the same later as what was provided in response is fine but to suggest that those original words are being twisted is a little unreasonable-- especially with accusations like they are being "twisted for cheap debating points" thereby questioning the motives of those who actually took your words at face value. There was no room for interpretation.

So yes, Unionist I seriously thought that you meant exactly what you said. Exactly. It would be unreasonable for me to presume otherwise. Same thing with you North Report. If we make any other presumption then there is no basis for conversation here.

I change my mind and learn from conversations often -- that is why I am here -- is there anything wrong with you acknowledging your evolution, or clarification, or change of position, or perhaps retraction of the original misleading overly categorical opening position? Or ignore it without claiming others are misrepresenting you? Otherwise you open up a discussion saying something you do not believe in or agree with and then criticize people for disagreeing with you...

Fotheringay-Phipps

In actual fact, there is not such a gulf between charities and enlightened social policy as some believe. Some years ago, before the crash of 2008, when corporate Canada didn't mind tossing its pocket change to the winsome poor, I attended a seminar for charity fundraisers --not the immaculately coiffed and fragrant corporate types, but retired steelworkers and grad students with an overdeveloped conscience. The first thing the keynote speaker asked us to do was to give our rough impressions of the amount of money that charities raised from various sources. Being a soft-boiled cynic, I estimated corporate givings at about 10 per cent of the average charity's revenue. In fact it is (was) two and a half per cent. Government was by far the major funding source for charities, contributing between 40 and 50 per cent of revenues depending on the province. That has probably changed by now, as governments subscribe more and more to market values, but I have no doubt that we collectively decide on many charitable initiatives through our elected governments.

Sure, it would be wonderful if governments were nimble and responsive enough to respond to all social needs. And only a fool would rely on charity for the heavy lifting of social policy. But charities can help draw attention to local issues that are overlooked (that decomissioned school that could serve as a community hub) or national issues that are too small to seize government's attention: for every Canadian Cancer Society selling tickets on Maseratis, there are a dozen charities fighting to get attention for 'orphan' diseases.

As for the proposal to end tax write-offs for charitable donations, this seems misguided. The tax write-off is an acknowledgement that market values aren't able to respond to all social needs, and attempts to moderate them. I don't understand the appeal of making charitable donation a ghastly parody of commercial society, with the slickest cornering ever-larger shares of the market and the rest nibbling away at their crusts. After the crash of 2008, I began hearing about philanthropic Darwinism. I can't believe we'd endorse the values of untrammeled competition in any sphere of public life.

Gaian

Quote: "I can't believe we'd endorse the values of untrammeled competition in any sphere of public life."

That's a pretty big group, "we", FP. Some among "we" would not only endorse but embrace it.
And I think "we" are going to to have to fight like hell in a society where the marginalized can be put in the situation of hopelessness where cost of living increases are not met by "government charity."

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I get appeals from the two universities I attended - and they publish a list of their donations and those who give. It's serious money. I assume the annual reports from the larger charities show serious money as well. Would all this fund raising exist in a socialist economy - wouldn't government have the responsibility to fund all this stuff? (not that I think Canada will ever become a socialist economy, mind Wink )

Doug

Somebody's always going to want to fund something beyond the capacity or willingness of government - so as long as there is private property at all, there will be charity.

NorthReport

How about changing the tax structure so that the rich pay more, read: their fair share of taxes, and the poor pay less taxes, and abolish all tax deductions for every charity that exists, that is, if we really want to begin to have a caring society.

Governor General David Johnston wants to see a ‘more caring’ Canada

Governor General David Johnston would like to see a “smarter, more caring” Canada in the new year.

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2013/12/27/governor_general_david_joh...

DaveW

If charity is a muscle, advocating its abolition very regressive morally, leads to apathy;

Reminds me of child welfare specialists in Romania after the Wall fell who discovered there was no real term for volunteer, people did not grasp the concept, since the State was the agent of all social services

Better active charity than that kind of moral vacuum

 

 

 

 

DaveW

Double post

quizzical

lack of volunteering = a moral vacuum???????

charity doesn't even = volunteering.

why did you interchange them? and please tell me why you think there's a moral vacuum if people don't volunteer?

NorthReport

There is no problem with people doing above and beyond for others. And kudos to those that do, especially if it's anonymous.

But to waste, and I mean waste, these vast amounts of money on all these different charities when with one simple stroke of the pen we coulkd change legisaltion and have a much more caring society for all those who require it

6079_Smith_W

NorthReport wrote:

But to waste, and I mean waste, these vast amounts of money on all these different charities when with one simple stroke of the pen we coulkd change legisaltion and have a much more caring society for all those who require it

Sorry, but that is an illusion. Nothing happens with the stroke of a pen, especially something that involves redirecting money.. And if it did people would find some way of saying something was wrong with the way it was being done:

http://www.nationswell.com/one-state-track-become-first-end-homelessness...

 

quizzical

 geez do people really choose between the 2? like there's one or the other, social safety net or charity?

i agree with NR it can be done with the stroke of a pen. the bc liberals got rid of  the social safety net with a stroke of a pen, bc housing and independant living with another stroke (giving them to the evangelical churches of bc to run in many cases). all of it can be put back with a stroke of the pen.

charities don't work. social saftey nets do.

privatization hasn't worked. government employees has at loads less expense to the tax payer.

 

6079_Smith_W

Oh I agree it's easy to yank support out from under something quickly. Case in point, public systems as you say, but also gutting charities and foundations.

Building that caring society that will presumably replace all that waste? Not so simple.

Never mind the assumption that there is no actual caring in charities.

 

quizzical

"building that caring society"?

i say "society" already cares they just don't know what to do about it these days. the dream is still being dreamt.

who's assuming there's no actual caring in charities? i never saw someone say so in this thread.

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