Gag rule shows need to be tough

By Todd Cohen

The nonprofit gag rule OK’d by the U.S. House underscores the history lesson that bowing to bullies is a big mistake and sure to backfire.

In its report on how to fix charity, the Panel on the Nonprofit Sector ignored that lesson.

Instead of taking the brave and critical step of urging tougher rules and policing to ensure an open and fair charitable marketplace, the panel bet the sector’s future on self-policing.

Blinded by foundation dollars that paid for its report, and fearing a regulatory crackdown, the panel pandered to organized philanthropy and to government with the deluded claim that charity can and will act on its own to clean up its act.

But the philanthropic-industrial complex is fat and smug, breeds excess and self-dealing, and is unbridled in its hoarding of assets and its control and manipulation of the charitable marketplace.

And the panel’s feel-good hot air will not insulate charity from lawmakers who are out for blood and will not let the charitable sector be truly independent, as the gag-rule vote makes clear.

Courage and vision, not spineless pandering and wishful thinking, are needed to free charity from the grip of political and philanthropic bullies.

Todd Cohen is the Editor and Publisher of the Philanthropy Journal.

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