Monday, October 29, 2007

Are they still charities?

A while ago, this Spiked article caught my eye. Entitled Why artists shouldn’t accept state funding, the article points out that, once you accept the state's shilling, you are then beholden to the state's viewpoint.
Ceri runs an arts charity in London. For years, she’s applied for government grants to fund her work, but not any more. 'You can’t do anything interesting or original', she says. 'Everything has so many strings and requirements attached about involving the community or helping people stop smoking or whatever, that there’s no room to do anything else.'

This is not true only of artists, however; it is true of any organisation including, for instance, charities.

As we have seen, Friends of the Earth gain a substantial amount of funding from the state; and they are not the only ones. John Trenchard has highlighted three charities—Mental Health Matters, Barnardo's and Oxfam—which receive a large chunk of their money from the state: indeed, in the first two, their entire salary bill is covered by taxpayer cash. Like any other organisation, fundamentally those holding the purse strings will control the agenda: in a sense, these charities (and many others) have simply become unofficial (and unaccountable) state agencies—QUANGOs, if you like.

Of course, the Conservatives currently want to see even more of this. Ultimately, when David Cameron talks about using the Third Sector to perform certain tasks more efficiently than central government agencies, he is talking about using state funding to compel the charities do so.* This is a dangerous notion.

However, the idea that any of this could be anything other than utterly beneficial is almost anathema to the vast majority of the British population: after all, they themselves have been in hock to the state for decades.

* UPDATE: my logic goes like this. David Cameron has said that he wants to look to the Third Sector to fulfill, more efficiently, some of the services that are currently handled by state organisations—indeed, Oliver Letwin said much the same to the Bow Group.

Now, are Dave and Ollie suggesting that the actual services are reduced? Or that the levels or service will be cut? No. Thus, if charities are to fill in for (hopefully) hundreds of sacked civil servants, they are going to need more funding.

Is this going to come from philanthropic donations from the public? No. Or at least, if the government is going to guarantee the same level of services, it cannot rely on the public's generosity.

So, the state services are cut, and the money transferred to the "more efficient, more responsive" smaller charities. But this state funding effectively chains the charities to dealing with the government's priorities and to the government's methods.

In effect, the charities become just another government department, but not even particularly accountable to voters.

Now, I would love to find out that my logic is flawed, but in the absence of any firm plans by Dave and Ollie, I have to assume that the above is broadly true.


Machiavelli's Understudy said...

he is talking about using state funding to compel the charities do so

Where has he said this?

poohbear said...

A ten percent universal tax system where EVERYONE is expected to pay their share and that includes charities is by far the best system,the cheapest to run,the fairest and the most inclusive! The old 'tythe system' is possibly the best system yet devised, so why does the present system still hold sway? it is so complex and expensive to run and only lawyers can understand it, it takes an army of beaurocrats to run it AND it is a criminals paradise/license to print money! The state has to collect truly stunning ammounts of private data on us all. WHY?
A true libertarian government would surely put a Tythe system in place? Its so simple to understand and by far the fairest?

INCOME TAX. 10%(everyone pays)

CORPORATION TAX. 10%(no exceptions)

SALES TAX. 10% (including fuel)

Simple isnt it? Fair isnt it? So why do the commisars hate it like poison?
To get this system up and running you would have to scrap EVERY QUANGO at once, saving about ONE HUNDRED BILLION POUNDS PER YEAR and sell off half our gold reserves to kickstart it!
And just watch the economy race ahead! obviously inflation would have to be controlled BUT the UK would rise to second or third richest nations within the decade!
There would be near ZERO unemployment because EVERYONE would be expected to make a contribution, so everyone who can work WILL work!
The commisars come up with all sorts of rubbish to argue against a 10% system! listen to a commisar for a few seconds on this subject and you can almost smell their fear that this system might happen!
Charities hate this system because it would mean that the gravytrain free money club for the 'elite' would have to stop and they would have to spend their money on helping people instead!
The enemy class fear this system more than nearly anything else(apart from the rope&lampost) of course.

Roger Thornhill said...

Chris, your logic is not flawed AFAICT.

The "Third Sector" is just a sector not totally under the control of politicians. The good ones beat the pants off Government services.

Orgs I hate are those like NSPCC, which appears to spend donation money funding lobbyists and professional pesterers to bug the heck out of Government so that they end up handing over money taken from us by force.

John Trenchard said...

since you mention the NSPCC - i found their recent PRE-9PM adverts utterly horrific and actually harmful to my daughter. i had to switch the telly over incredibly quickly.

its one thing to inform people , its another to actually re-enact a child abuse scene - but thats all ok because its the NSPCC.

actually i found the advert utterly fucking evil in many regards, because totally innocent kids are seeing this crap.