A Proposal for Taking Care of Important Parts of American Life
I had the great pleasure recently of attending the annual fundraiser for our regional Planned Parenthood team. It was a joyous, committed group that celebrated real values and gave a ton of their hard-earned money. The event brought to mind an idea that occurred to me a while back. It’s an idea I would love to see us carry out.
Running the Gauntlet
Every year four great institutions get drug through the political mud. This is done by people who have no interest in them except as punching bags. These institutions go through this to get pitifully small but important federal for operations that serve us all.
The institutions are the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, Public Broadcasting, and Planned Parenthood. Collectively, three of these pillars of civilization receive about $1.2 billion a year. One does have to give some credit: Trump tried to cut them all this year, but Congress actually increased them a bit.
Missing from this funding, for now at least, is Planned Parenthood. The Trump administration succeeded in making Title X funds too onerous to use. That was $50 million a year now gone from the 600 centers Planned Parenthood runs. In many places, these centers are the only health care options available to patients.
The total amount to the other three isn’t equal to a rounding error on the federal budget . Adding back in Planned Parenthood makes little difference in the total. But the money is life or death for these institutions.
For these sums, politicians act like the ultimate art, culture, and morality critics. They work hard to stoke their base, to impose their preferences and beliefs on the rest of us. It’s a disgusting thing to watch, year after year.
A Better Way
So, in an era of micro loans and crowd funding through processes such as Go Fund Me (https://www.gofundme.com/c/how-it-works), I have a modest proposal to stop this nonsense.
I wonder how large of a trust would be needed to provide this kind of funding in annual amounts. One model would be a fund large enough to generate the needed funds as income or growth in the fund. Proceeds go to these four entities. Another model might be to have a somewhat smaller fund, bolstered by continuous annual giving to provide part of the funds needed.
What if we set that goal and a small group of our wealthiest and most enlightened citizens came together and said something like the following:
“These institutions are vital to our nation and they need not be political punching bags. We, the undersigned, will contribute $XX billion dollars as a trust to fund these organizations in perpetuity. We will do this IF you, the American people, will provide matching funds, either as a one-time pledge or, even better, as a modest continuous pledge. Together, we can do the right thing.”
In a year wherein we just raised the debt ANOTHER trillion dollars, surely, we the people can do this. We can cut out the middleman of government and declare this a part of our direct legacy. We can tell the pontificators to buzz off – we have this one covered.
What do you think? Would you be willing to make a contribution to such a thing? It underwrites vital institutions and gives them much needed stability. Equally important, it is an exercise in direct democracy. It rescues institutions too easily abused for all the wrong reasons.
I like the idea. Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg, Warren Buffet – are you listening? Will you call our bluff?
If you find this blog worthy of your time and curiosity, I invite you to do two things:
(1) Join the conversation. Your voice counts here.
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