Non Profits, from Arthur Khaldarov

September 25, 2011 |

 This is an article about a chronic problem I have noticed in most not-for-profit orgs. When we trade we create nothing but liquidity, no matter what you think of yourself, we are just vultures, exploiting many inefficiencies in the financial markets. Instead of curing diseases or engineering new products or even creating a work of art, we just trade. Call it what you want, but at the end of the day, if your mathematical formula didn't make a trade you didn't make anything. But in our free time however, some of us donate large amounts of money or seed interesting projects that most of the time are intellectually interesting, but hardly ever profitable. You work very hard for your money so I think you should demand from those companies that your money is spent wisely and not in a wasteful manner. I think Dell was one of the first guys  and Mike Milken before him, who successfully asked and got results for his money.

Stefan Jovanovich comments: 

Arthur's premise - "when we trade we create nothing but liquidity" - is certainly accurate; but his conclusion is shocking. Markets are the only successful means human beings have developed to define their state of knowledge about the fundamental fact of existence for all life on the planet - scarcity. Medical research, engineering and dramatic production (my favorite "art") are all wonderful gifts; but none of them can exist without the seemingly useless activity of the people who define prices. (If you have any serious doubt about that, examine the art, engineering and science being produced right now in Zimbabwe and North Korea.)

The difficulty with non-profit and for-profit salaries in organizations is that they are not set by any open bid-ask market; instead, they are the product of politics. That they tend towards being corrupt and ugly should hardly be surprising. The proposed solution - "demand that your money is spent wisely" - is the same fantasy of "reform" that keeps money flowing for "rehab" and has people believing that sick organizations can somehow be saved. It is no accident that the best example of sustained corporate benevolence - HP - is now turning to the solution of hiring a purely political "name".

Gary Rogan writes:

Well the bigger beautiful things are invariably created either involuntarily (the Colosseum built mainly by recently captured slaves, the original St. Petersburg which was built by serfs with a short life expectancy), through donations, like say the Vatican, most of the cathedrals and churches of Europe, or taxes and exploitation of peasant labor for money, like most of the other attractions in the old world. I wouldn't call the funds supplied by the Soviets and especially North Koreans "donations" though. It's also hard to say the grandeur of the results is a justification for subjecting people to the "donation process", in fact I would say just the opposite based on general moral principles and the net migration vectors involving the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and (when there is an opportunity) North Korea.

Stefan Jovanovich writes:

My dad was choleric by nature, but he did a good job of restraining his temper in business. The only time I ever saw him entirely lose it in public was when someone asked at a shareholders meeting why his company was not doing as good a job as ETS - the non-profit monopolist that literally owns the college and graduate school application testing market. His reply was: "If you allow me to run at a loss so I have no nasty profits and tax liabilities and persuade colleges and graduate schools that there should be competition in the test market, it will not be a problem. Until then, we have no hope of competing with those saints of American education in Princeton."

Kim Zussman adds: 

For want of a bailout Lehman was lost.
For want of Lehman the market was lost.
For want of the market the economy was lost.
For want of the economy the election was lost.
For want of the election the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a bail

Ken Drees adds:

For want of another backdoor USA bailout Germany is pissed..
For want of a German handout the PIIGS are pissed.
For want of more austerity Germany stays pissed.
For want of continued power all the politicos are pissed.
For want of a viable solution the markets are pissed.
And all for the lack of a Euro Debt Bond

Alston Mabry adds:

What if the €uro experiment, instead of introducing the new currency, had simply been the proposition that all EU countries issue their sovereign bonds denominated in DMarks? Wouldn't it have been clear immediately that certain problems with such a scheme were unavoidable? And isn't that essentially where we are now?


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