Eric Yollick, The Golden Hammer
It’s time for the Montgomery County Commissioners Court to follow morality – and the law – and bring funding of politically-connected nonprofits to an end.
Here are three points we must all remember.
#1 The Commissioners Court provided over $2 million of capital improvements and property to the Meals on Wheels program in the past year. Therefore, asking Meals on Wheels to seek private community contributions was very appropriate.
If the program is so important, then the community should support it through private contributions.
We don’t need tax dollars going to private organizations regardless of how worthy they are. Such transfer of funds would be susceptible to political favoritism. In contrast, community contributions emanate from competition and the ascertainment of community priorities.
Terri Jaggers used her political connections and influence to shift tax dollars from core County government purposes to the allegedly nonprofit organizations she preferred. Commissioners Riley, Meador, and Metts, as well as disgraced former County Judge Doyal, fell for Jaggers hook, line, and sinker. Jaggers’ theft of funds from orphans revealed the precise reason that tax dollars should never go to organizations outside of the prying eyes of the Montgomery County Auditor.
I live in Texas and Montgomery County, because I choose not to live in a Rawlsian nightmare of “distributive justice.” I have experienced occasions in my own life when I experienced financial difficulties. I didn’t seek or accept government dollars.
I’ve spent a lot of time with homeless people and even spent time living with them. My heart goes out to those people. I support private charity and believe it is moral and actually an ethical duty. Nevertheless, that has nothing whatsoever to do with taking tax dollars and giving them to charity. Different morals govern those actions. Conflating moral principles results in epistemological confusion.
#2 The Texas Constitution, Article 11, Section 3, prohibits counties or cities providing tax dollars to nonprofit organizations. The Commissioners Court did make a mistake. They should have zeroed out funds to all of the nonprofits rather than merely halving them.
#3 I don’t want my tax dollars going to charitable organizations which members of the Commissioners Court choose. I didn’t elect them to make such decisions. They are not competent to make such decisions nor will they likely ever be.
I elected them to provide for law enforcement and construct and maintain roads and bridges (although I personally don’t believe government should be in the road and bridge business either).
I give a LOT of money to charity. I’ve raised millions of dollars to support basic cancer research. I give a lot of money to the Scottish Rite Hospitals and to St. Jude’s. I give money to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I’ve also given major contributions to the Montgomery County Community Foundation. Usually, my total charitable giving exceeds $100,000 per year and often is even higher. I believe in private charity. But I can tell you very seriously that I will NOT give money even to LLS, if I believed they obtained most of their money from government. That is completely unacceptable. In fact, for a private charity to take government money is IMMORAL. When the Susan G. Komen Foundation began playing footsy with government money, I withdrew my support of them entirely, even though the previous year (2012) I had been the major sponsor of their fundraiser in Aspen and raised over $150K for them in one day. (I shouldn’t get the credit for that money. I just led the fundraiser but about half of the money came from a large group of private donors who very kindly participated.)
When government taxes me, and takes my money away, so that a group of politicians can then give that money to their favored political allies in nonprofit organizations, they are reducing my ability to give money to the charity of my choice. Why should the Commissioners Court choose where my charity should go?
I enjoyed the comments of Dr. Billy Graff, a Baptist preacher who heads a large nonprofit foundation, during the first day of the Commissioners Court’s Budget Workshop last Monday, July 29, 2019. Dr. Graff noted that his foundation will not accept government funds as a matter of principle.
None of us should condone such behavior. Upon full consideration, Montgomery County citizens will understand the IMMORALITY of it.