Economist Arnold Kling write at EconLog:
In the non-profit sector, it is up to donors to provide discipline. But donors, I would argue, tend to be interested in expressive philanthropy rather than in results. ... I am inclined to think that with non-profits, you get what you pay for. With donors caring about expressing themselves, the non-profit industry is bound to evolve toward satisfying donors' desire for self-expression. That does not mean that it will produce no good results.
The concept of expressive philanthropy might helpÂ explain the vast trove piled up by the Southern Poverty Law Center (which is now over a quarter of a billion dollars) in its Cayman Island and other accounts. No matter how fast Mrs. Dees tries to spend the loot Mr. Dees hauls in (and she tries really hard, as these five dozen photos of the Dees's palace that poverty bought show), the money just keeps piling up. People give huge amounts of money to the SPLC to show how much they hate the Ku Klux Klan. (You can hardly expect the SPLC to explain to the rich rubes that the KKK barely exists anymore, except perhaps for informers hired by the FBI and SPLC.) Who knows? Maybe all the random Third World knick-knacks that Mrs. Dees decorates their house with weren't bought by her.
Maybe they are actually gifts that grateful people have given Morris over the years. I was at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley this week, which has this wonderful collection of the incredible stuff that other countries gave President Reagan on his state visits. "Dear President Reagan, Here is a hippopotamus carved from an elephant's tusk. Please don't drop bombs on us." But why would somebody give Morris Dees a luxury rickshaw to put by his pool? "Dear Mr. Dees, Here is an objet d'art made out of a ton of used horseshoes. Please don't sue us?" I dunno.
Or maybe they just really want to give him money and shiny crud to show how much they hate hate. It's like that scene in Bad Teacher where the dweeby rich teacher played by Justin Timberlake, whom gold-digging Cameron Diaz is after, is chaperoning a field trip to Abe Lincoln's log cabin, and the thought of Honest Abe makes him rant for three minutes about how much he hates slavery, while Jason Segel's low rent gym teacher needles him by telling him that he, personally, hates sharks. From TheMovieSpoiler:
On the field trip, Cameron Diaz actually starts to realize what a politically-correct and zombified bore Justin Timberlake really is. He has no real opinion on anything, and just spouts platitudes that dominate conversation in public school teaching circles. In the Illinois state capitol, the students admire a statue of Abraham Lincoln, which prompts Timberlake to deliver remarks on how much he hates slavery, and would time travel so he could "get rid of slavery" before Lincoln if he could.
Diaz looks at him like he's a fool, because clearly few alive would say they were fans of slavery...so his taking this totally noncontroversial and obvious position and being so emotional about it makes him seem ridiculous. Jason Segel gets it too, and mocks Timberlake (without him realizing it) by joining the conversation and saying, "You know what I really hate? Sharks!" Timberlake agrees that sharks are indeed awful, because they destroy families.
Segel springs the trap and says, 'But, on the other hand, they are magnificent creatures of the deep. Majestic". Timberlake then follows form and admits to highly admiring the majesty of sharks. Diaz, very clearly, sees that Timberlake is programmed on an intrinsic DNA level to just regurgitate platitudes and take noncontroversial, agreeable stances on everything imaginable. She suspects, for the first time possibly, that she does not want a life with someone like this, no matter how deep his trust fund runs.
Somebody should start the Abraham Lincoln Log Cabin Center for the Hating of Slavery and Hate. He'd wind up as rich as Morris Dees.