Category: social

What To Do About Contextual Ad Blunders – “Opinion-Based” Advertising

I blog about the elections – meaning my support for Obama – only to get ads from McCain’s campaign right there with my post. Bummer.

The current capability in Google AdSense to block specific domains from serving ads is not practical in so many ways.

Here is an idea – a (self-service) positioning matrix… that could be implemented by contextual ad services like Google Adwords/AdSense. Here is how this might work:

  1. Start a list of hot topics/issues (crowdsource the list)
  2. Let publishers (in AdSense) browse/search the list, look up the topics/issues of concern to them and position themselves along dimensions like “love/hate,” “for/against,” “approve/disapprove,” etc…
  3. Let advertisers (in Adwords) do the same.

The result:

  1. Ads matching the attitudes of publishers and their audiences
  2. Possibility for advertisers to differentiate between “converted” and “non-converted” audiences… and eventually try to selectively engage those who admittedly don’t like their message/product/cause. Something like – “We know many people don’t like {whatever}. But we work hard to change this. Gives us a chance.”

UPDATE (March 2009):

Google introduces “interest-based” advertising… good, but still missing the point of “opinion-based” advertising.

May be I should start a category “free ideas to Google” … here is another one…

Ads On This Blog… And JuiceTorrent

Here is what Fred Wilson says back in June 2006 in a post on his blog titled “Ads on this blog“…

“I don’t like leaving money on the table. This blog does around 2 million page views per year on the web and another million plus views in my feed.

Those page views are worth real money and while I don’t need it, someone does.

[...]

I hope to generate $40,000 this year to charity with this blog. I am certain I’ll generate at least $25,000.

That’s real money that will get a tribeswoman in Africa a cell phone or a underprivileged child a scholarship.

So that’s why I run ads on this blog. I hope you agree that its a good cause…”

Fred is a “star” blogger with a big audience. So he makes a meaningful chunk of money (let’s say $36,000) to donate at the end of the year to charities.

Now… let’s assume that a typical unknown blogger could make an average of $12/year (that’s $1/month) in ad revenue from AdSense.

You’d have to put 3,000 such bloggers together to achieve what Fred does with his blog in terms of ad revenue. And you’d have to wait over 8 years before Google releases the $100 min checks to each of these bloggers… and you’d have to remind these bloggers and their audiences that the money was intended for charity. Not very practical… nobody does it.

Enter JuiceTorrent (see the JT widget in left column of this page)

With JuiceTorrent, 3,000 regular (non-star) bloggers (like me and most of you) can create and maintain a monthly revenue “torrent” of $3,000 flowing directly into the account of a charity… or multiple charities. No waiting for months or years, no writing of checks, no “donation” accounting (who cares about a receipt for a $12 yearly donation anyway). Added benefit – being part of an online community of supporters and actively promoting the causes you care about.

Without JuiceTorrent – we leave money on the table. With JuiceTorrent – we can pay for a scholarship for an underprivileged child. All it takes is embedding a few snippets of code on our blogs.

Personal notes:

  • I really, really can’t care less about the aesthetic implications of having ads on my blog (JuiceTorrent is set for now to serve text ads only though). Looking “sleek,” ”clean,” or “non-commercial” (read “anti-commercial”) somehow doesn’t make it even close to the top of my priorities. Finding new ways to make the web meaningfully social does.
  • I don’t want to wait for the “ad-free” web of the future that may come or may not come about any time soon. If NPR and WGBH can put car dealers’ ads on their websites – for a good cause – so can I.

Read more about JuiceTorrent:

Democratic Presidents Make Us All Richer; Republican Presidents Make Us All Poorer

Well… Read the title of this post again. Then read this article. Then take a look at the stats (from the US Census Bureau):

And then, when voting next time for a Republican President, just tell me – what are your reasons other than:

  1. the right to own a military grade machine gun at home to compensate for a small d-k,
  2. caring more for future children than for those already living because the yet unborn do not need health care and good education – like NOW,
  3. having a President who will act like a “father” to you – because you want to be a “child” forever… or may be because your dad was not there when you needed him (he had to work two full time jobs to make ends meet, remember – correlate with the stats above),
  4. having a President who will need a “Higher Father” to make his decisions – so that he doesn’t have to take full responsibility for them (you like your President to be like you, don’t you?),
  5. having a President who will share your own negative opinions about those other 50% of Americans… those who are NOT real Americans or good people altogether according to your strong beliefs.

Update:

Read a more dispassionate and much more educated discussion on WHAT MAKES PEOPLE VOTE REPUBLICAN? by Jonathan Haidt (found via Jean Russell).

However, at this stage of the political fight for the White House, understanding Republican voters (while absolutely necessary) is not enough. We’ve had enough of analysing why Republicans dominate the political landscape for quite some time already. We need more people to confront them. This country is our country too! Society is not “as it is”… it is what we make of it.

JuiceTorrent Is On!!!

Yeah… !!! We (at People Networks) did it!

The points about JuiceTorrent:

  1. Gives organizations and individuals (we call them JT stars) the possibility to start their own self-expanding ad networks through the blogs and websites of their fans and supporters.
  2. Gives people (fans and supporters) an easy way to start and manage micro-streams of ad revenue from their own blogs and websites – and join them into meaningful “torrents” going directly to entities (JT stars) they choose to support.
  3. Gives the JT stars a fast and easy way to plug into and test/compare contextual ad markets (Google AdSense, YPN) without the hassle of changing ad code and micromanaging ad placement.
  4. Makes (ad)sense out of the largely unused micro-pools of ad space controlled by the new class of (personal) media owners and publishers – “the people formerly known as the audience.”
  5. Creates a new category of social vectors across the online identities of people and organizations – adding the moral and material dimension of “supporting” to the existing “linking,” “friending,” “visiting,”and “following.”
  6. Separates “utility” advertising from “high quality” content while keeping the economic link between them. Mortgage ads on my blog where I rant about home prices will support the independent star blogger/journalist/artist I admire and read daily… or the Red Cross… or both. JT “stars” can stay as high minded, ad free, and/or commercially non-viable as they wish – while the ads on my blog can be trivial, pedestrian, useful, and indeed effective.
  7. Gives musicians a possibility to establish ongoing flows of exchange – streaming music for streaming support - as opposed to the discreet consumption/transaction models of the industrial era past.

See how JuiceTorrent works…

We are now actively looking for candidates for JT stardom – nonprofits, star-bloggers, musicians – to start them up with JuiceTorrent.

Please, contact me – in comments here… or by email (emil at sotirov dot com).

Big Thoughts from Small Minds

Here is a guy who’s (in his own words) “supposed to be thinking ‘big thoughts’ all day as part of a fellowship program that recruits PhD-level scientists into public service with the federal government.”

And here is one big thought he produced:

“But at a fundamental level, studying complex behavioral and genetic networks in animals is not so different from understanding human social networks.”

Oh yeah… on a fundamental level… we’re all animals. So heartbreakingly true.

But here is the scary part:

“So to some extent, when it comes to explaining social software to military policymakers – I’m the perfect guy for the job.”

Read more… 

Reading Blogs and Articles About Our Health Care System…

…written by people who know a thing or two about the subject… as opposed to listening to our presidential candidates.

Running a Hospital (blog)
by Paul Levy, President and CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston

Repairing the Healthcare System (blog found via Brad)
by Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

The Health Insurance Mafia
(article in today’s Wall Street Journal found via Stanley Feld)

Now, That’s What Still Passes For "Capitalism" On Our Shores. It’s Not!

No, it’s not “creative destruction” either… It is a really mean version of economic Darwinism as preached and practiced by a pathologically moneyeyed executive nomenclature. I found the article below after reading today’s news about Bear Stearns:

“Wall Street’s five biggest firms together paid a record $39 billion in bonuses [for 2007], even though three of them suffered the worst quarterly losses in their history and shareholders lost more than $80 billion.

Goldman Sachs Group, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers Holdings and Bear Stearns together paid $65.6 billion in compensation and benefits last year to their 186,000 employees. Year-end bonuses usually account for 60 percent of the total, meaning bonuses exceeded the $36 billion distributed in 2006 when the industry reported all-time high profits.

The bonuses are larger than the gross domestic products of Sri Lanka, Lebanon or Bulgaria.”

See full article…

The Myth of Home Ownership

“NEW YORK (AP) — The Federal Reserve says Americans’ percentage of equity in their homes has fallen below 50 percent for the first time since 1945.

The Fed’s U.S. Flow of Funds Accounts shows homeowners’ percentage of home equity slipped to a revised 49.6 percent in the second quarter of 2007 and declined further to 47.9 percent in the fourth quarter. It marks the first time homeowners’ debt on their houses exceeds their equity since the Fed started tracking the data in 1945.” (full story)

It is co-ownership at best – people investing massive amounts of time, energy, and emotion to manage assets owned mostly by banks.

Clay Shirky Talk in Harvard – February 28, 2008

Clay Shirky on his new book, “Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations” (6PM on the Harvard Law School campus, location TBA).

In story after story, Clay masterfully makes the connections as to why business, society and our lives continue to be transformed by a world of net-enabled social tools. His pattern-matching skills are second to none.“-Ray Ozzie, Microsoft Chief Software Architect

From the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard:

All events are free and open to the public… Invite your friends, students, colleagues, co-workers, fellow faculty, research assistants, interns, family, and others to celebrate and collaborate with us. Please don’t hesitate to forward and blog this information.

These events will take place on the campus at Harvard Law School unless otherwise noted, with more information on time, venue, and topic posted on the events page. The events page also includes a complete list of luncheons and other events, which we hope you’ll also be able to join us for!”

One More Thing The Internet Could Disrupt – Car Ownership and Sales…

Here we go – I’m back on this blog after a long hiatus.

And it’s Fred again (he’s good at this) – with this post – making me share a “vision” I had a few days ago. The idea is probably in the heads of other people for some time already without me knowing (see Fred’s comment under my comment). Fred’s post was inspired by Seth Godin.

And I should say – I am constantly inspired by Umair Haque.

Here is what I posted as a comment on Fred’s post:

“How about transforming the car ownership into an investment type of thing.

Imagine people being able to lend their own cars for the times they are not using them. Or even making a small business out of owning a few cars. Everybody sets their own prices.

Think of Zipcar – but without the centralized ownership of the cars.

Think of an Internet platform (could be open source… or even at the level of a protocol may be) which supports the data and logic for such a distributed environment.

Imagine the effects of a dynamic price competition for a short term leased transportation… not to speak of the long term disruption of the car sales market… not to speak of all the “green” goodness coming out of it.

The hardware could be developed and sold by any vendor.

Please, whoever starts doind this – give me a credit… :)”

In fact, Zipcar could open up their platform – and become the Goggle/AdSense of cars. Scott Griffith, do you read my blog.

Defense Secretary Doubled by a "War Czar" – Finally Everything Will Get Better!

The “Viceroy” thing didn’t work in Iraq seemingly. May be a “Czar” is the answer… or was it a “Tzar”.

A bit of etymology… Bulgaria, it turns out, is where the whole “Tzar” thing started… Here is what I found on Wikipedia:

“The sainted Boris I is sometimes retrospectively referred to as tsar, because at his time Bulgaria was converted to Christianity. However, the title “tsar” (and its Byzantine Greek equivalent “basileus”) were actually adopted and used for the first time by his son Simeon I, following a makeshift imperial coronation performed by the Patriarch of Constantinople in 913. After an attempt by the Byzantine Empire to revoke this major diplomatic concession and a decade of intensive warfare, the imperial title of the Bulgarian ruler was recognized by the Byzantine government in 924 and again at the formal conclusion of peace in 927.”

I feel almost proud… :)

But how about somebody to double George W Bush – like… hmmm… a “Vice Emperor”… or something… Oh, I forgot – we already have (a) Dick there.

Update (May 20, 2007):

The NYT has an article about this story… where as usual for American journalists, Bulgarian origins are forgotten in favor of later Russian implementations. My explanation (besides journalistic disrespect for Wikipedia) – Bulgaria never had nukes pointed to America… but that’s another subject.

The best part of the article:

“It’s unclear where this fits in exactly, but any discussion of czars would be incomplete without including Woody Allen’s assertion that the Russian Revolution began when the peasants finally realized that the “tsar” and the “czar” were the same person.”

The Structure of Today’s Political Discourse

I’ve been following the French presidential elections on TV5. One thing is becoming quite clear. The French are discussing the same stuff that we’ll be arguing about in 2008. There are differences in the way things are talked about or the specific realities discussed, but the underlying ideological structure seems very much the same to me. Or, at least, that would be what I see as a pertinent structure for today’s political discourse here in the US too. Here are the main dimensions:

competition — cooperation
locality — mobility
predictability — fluidity
identity — context
effective — affective

Most of the other stuff that may come to mind – like “security vs. growth” or “dependence vs. autonomy” for example – seems derivative to me.

"Idiocracy" – I Like The Title…

I don’t even need to see the movie…
Patt Morrison: The Funniest Movie You Can’t See

IMHO:
Idiocracy happens when good and highly educated people – fearing a repeat of the (presumably) intellectual-born horrors of 20th century Europe – prefer to inhabit a mental 18th century utopedia (induced by the literalism of American academia), thus leaving the non-evidence based world (a.k.a. business, politics, and culture) to Limbaughs, Dohertys, Foleys, DeLays, Lays, Roves, Chenneys, and Bushes.

"The Giant Zero" At The Berkman Center At Harvard

Doc Searls (blog) gave an interesting talk today at the Berkman Center at Harvard. The talk was called “The Giant Zero” – pointing to the image of the Internet as a hollow sphere enabling all periphery (end) points to connect.

Doc talked a lot about the importance of the metaphors we use when thinking about the Internet. He referred to Lakoff’s books about the language as something that largely operates our thinking (the language “speaking” us) as opposed to the everyday understanding of language as something we merely use as a tool to communicate our thoughts (we “speaking” the language). Without having read Lakoff, my impression is that he is mostly re-telling European post-structuralist theories from 20-30 years ago to American audiences nowadays reluctant to read French authors (for whatever reason).

Update: It seems I was completely wrong about George Lakoff in my last sentence above… Tom Maddox’ comment on Doc Searls blog sent me read about Lakoff. It is clear that Lakoff has his own intellectual path independent and different from the post-structuralists I had in mind.

I Am Fed Up with the (Unfortunately) Now Dominant “Power” Imagery of American Culture

This is a rant. It’s not an essay. I am not proving anything. I just say what is on my mind. If you don’t want to read it, you’re welcome to leave my blog right now. I am not happy either with these thoughts flooding my head on 9/11.

I am really, really fed up with the primitivism of what so many Americans understand as “power.”

Let me put it as simply as that: true power does not reside in guns, money, or muscles. I’ll repeat: true power is not to be found in handguns, rifles, tanks, rockets… or the stratospheric executives’ and celebrities’ incomes… or the foot/basket/baseball players’ hypertrophied muscles. More guns for the Army… more money for the stupidly rich… and more gyms and steroids for muscles do not make America stronger.

I came to America in 1990. My love for America is rooted in the way my parents looked at America as the beacon of hope to all repressed people in the world (sounds like a cliché – to you may be). America, to me, is first and foremost about democracy and political freedom… and then, eventually, about economic opportunities (yes, believe or not, I did not come here dreaming of finally being able to buy myself a BMW).

Despite all the fascination with the American “cowboy” and “gun” traditions, people worldwide still see America mostly as the place where life is free from the unimaginable (for Americans) violence of 20th century European wars, fascism, Russian bolshevism, East European Stasis and Securitates, Chinese and Khmer Rouge communisms, African tribal wars, South American dead squads, Taliban “power” over women, etc.

The real power of America – a terrific power over the minds of billions of people – is in the IDEA of America. The idea of freedom from “powers,” “lords,” aggression, and fear. It’s not about hamburgers, jeans, jazz, or Elvis. Jeans, hamburgers, jazz, and Elvis were always just SYMBOLS of America. This might be news to many Americans, but local food almost anywhere in the world is way better than McDonalds.

America’s power is not in Rocky’s muscles – it’s in the idea that Rocky CAN have a life free from petty dependence on the local crime “lord.”

And then again, I came in America in 1990… and was baffled by “Jesus is Lord” bumper stickers (oh, how we miss our English lords) and “aggressive” and “greedy” as required (good) personal traits… and by images of gorilla caricatures (a.k.a. football players) and fat-ass ugly baseball body shapes being shoveled into the heads of youngsters as ideals of masculinity. Then came the Detroit interpretations on the theme of “power”… and a whole new culture of driving personal tanks (a.k.a. SUVs) sprang out. What a joke! Primitive is a mild word to qualify this stupidity. And it’s not just stupidity. This compulsive need to identify with infantile “power” imagery (grown “boys playing with toys”) is unfortunately the other face of a growing sense of insecurity and fear. Only people fearing other people can enjoy hiding into a car with the size, look, and weight of a military vehicle. That’s not the America I was coming to.

And since 9/11… the biggest mistake… a terrible mistake… was to forget where the big power of America resides. 9/11 is an attack on America by an ideology. The terrorist acts are just a tool. In today’s world, you don’t fight an ideology with tanks. Tanks bring easy short term “mission accomplished” stuff… and most often long term pain for everybody involved. Reagan was much smarter – he brandished a “strategic initiative” (an idea basically + some money invested for credibility)… and the Soviets were scared appropriately. It worked. Smart Reagan, stupid Bush – both Republicans. The difference is in intelligence. Ironically, the problem with Bush is not so much with his “messianic” talk about freedom – as some suggest – but with his limited understanding of true American power. As a result, American power in the world is diminished – and this makes me angry. The stupid “power” talk and imagery displaced and diminished our real powers. You cannot beat global religious extremism and global crime lords (think Russian and Columbian) with gun/money/muscle “power.” They feed off and thrive on this. That’s their turf. That’s their world. They are happy to meet you there.

Democrats cannot find their way out of the primitive “power” speak and metaphors either. My sad feeling is that nations learn mostly by experience. Unfortunately, Americans may have to see what “power” and “aggression” really mean in the scale of what other nations have gone through – and then only “unlearn” the infantile language of gun/money/muscle “power.”

Just to make sure there is no misunderstanding about my understanding of “power”: (1) I think power starts and ends in the heads and hearts of people, and (2) brut gun/money/muscle power is needed to treat some heads and hearts… on a case by case basis – I totally support the military action in Afghanistan.

///////////////////////////////

Update October 10, 2006:

Here is a good example of what I’m talking about – from an email from a nonprofit organization… notice the language and the metaphors:

“This week, the world’s biggest brands will throw their advertising muscle and millions of dollars in sales into the fight against global AIDS and extreme poverty…”

In a time when (post Vietnam) generals are so very careful with their language, American civilian life is flooded with war/money/muscle metaphors.

///////////////////////////////

Update September 11, 2011:

From today’s NYT:

Our weakest area is combating Al Qaeda’s ideology,” Michael E. Leiter, a director of the National Counterterrorism Center in both the Bush and Obama administrations, said last week.

Oh, really!?!

 

"Relationship Blend" vs. "Productive, Rational Behavior"

Another good article in The New York Times by David Brooks. Here is the starting snippet:

“In the world of public policy, there are ecologists and engineers. The ecologists believe human beings are formed amid a web of relationships. Behavior is shaped by the weave of expectations and motivations that we pick up from the people around us every day.

The engineers believe all this relationship talk is so much mush. They believe behavior is shaped by incentives. You give people the resources they need and socially productive, rational behavior will usually follow.

Most politicians are ecologists who turn into engineers once in office…”

I totally agree with his criticism of Hillary Clinton’s “American Dream” plan. I had exactly the same reaction when I read about it – such a tired approach, such a lack of imagination, such an inability to produce something that may “change the rules of the (social) game” and inspire constituencies…

And here is the predictable (for me) conclusion:

“But the fact is, when it comes to helping people flourish, the ecologists are usually right.”

I find David’s argument absolutely pertinent to my own preoccupation right now – building an online social software service. I am talking about Aidpage – and our current work on its next major upgrade… coming soon on a computer near you… :)

"Progressive Realism"… Not Too Different From "Considerate Idealism"

An online test recently defined me as a “considerate idealist.” I liked that. It is very close to what I am thinking of myself.

I also identify with what Robert Wright describes as “progressive realism” in his recent New York Times article.

In my previous life under a communist regime, I almost inevitably would bring a conversation to the point where someone would call me a naive idealist for believing in democracy and market economy. To which, my reply was “no, I am not naive… don’t you see the US is stronger than the USSR.”

Similarly, when confronted with all the abundant evidence (see this and this just from today) about how morality must be left aside if you want to make real money, I would simply point to the fact that the two richest guys in the world (you know who) do not seem to be morally bankrupt crooks.

And I liked David Brooks’ “Democracy’s Long Haul” from a few days ago. It reminded me of my own theory about the sometimes necessary “Pinochet” period for countries transitioning from long dictatorial one party systems to democracy.

So, now you know where I stand… :)

Is This Gracious… Really… Or Simply Idiotic?

Shooting victim apologizes to vice president

“‘My family and I are deeply sorry for all that Vice President Cheney and his family have had to go through this week,’ Whittington said.”

Is Cheney really so powerful and fearsome… that someone (a lawyer!) he shot in the face… someone that had to go through a life threatening heart attack caused by the accident… feels the need to say “sorry”…?

Sounds like a story straight out of Sadam’s regime. Imagine Sadam accidentally shooting one of his lackeys during a hunt… Then the poor guy goes: “My family and I are deeply sorry for all that our Great and Beloved Leader and His Family have had to go through this week.”

Even Anger… What Is Charity… Terrified Nonprofit Leaders… Does Compassion Need Incentives?

A colleague found a very interesting article – “The Kindness of Strangers” by Robert V. Levine. Here is a snippet:

“Over and again, New Yorkers told us they cared deeply about the needs of strangers, but that the realities of city living prohibited their reaching out. People spoke with nostalgia for the past, when they would routinely pick up hitchhikers or arrange a meal for a hungry stranger. Many expressed frustration—even anger—that life today deprived them of the satisfaction of feeling like good Samaritans.”

I just hope that Aidpage will eventually give those unhappy New Yorkers… and the many like them all over the world… the informal and immediate ways to be good Samaritans again. That’s my work now… and the work of my team at Aidpage… Ivan, Tzenko, Boby, Valcho, Pencho, and Stamen.

And then… another good… somewhat philosophical article… from The New York Times… “In Pursuit of Unhappiness” by Darrin M. McMahon. He writes:

“… the philosopher John Stuart Mill, came to a similar conclusion. His words are all the more worth heeding in that Mill himself was a determined proponent of the greatest happiness for the greatest number. ‘Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so,’ Mill concluded after recovering from a serious bout of depression. Rather than resign himself to gloom, however, Mill vowed instead to look for happiness in another way.

‘Those only are happy,’ he came to believe, ‘who have their minds fixed on some object other than their own happiness; on the happiness of others, on the improvement of mankind, even on some art or pursuit, followed not as a means, but as itself an ideal end. Aiming thus at something else, they find happiness by the way.’ For our own culture, steeped as it is in the relentless pursuit of personal pleasure and endless cheer, that message is worth heeding.

So in these last days of 2005 I say to you, ‘Don’t have a happy new year!’ Have dinner with your family or walk in the park with friends. If you’re so inclined, put in some good hours at the office or at your favorite charity, temple or church. Work on your jump shot or your child’s model trains. With luck, you’ll find happiness by the by. If not, your time won’t be wasted. You may even bring a little joy to the world.”

And then another article from The New York Times… by Stephanie Strom… originally titled “What Is Charity?“… as of now suspiciously archived under the totally meaningless “Aftermaths.” What were the “maths” for changing the title… I wonder. Did it sound a bit too much of a “questioning” for the good taste of some influential charity?

Here are snippets from “What is Charity?”…

“… among the many who had been turning away from Americans most in need of charity was the philanthropic sector itself. Last year, the share of giving going to organizations most directly related to helping the poor hit a record low, accounting for less than 10 percent of the $248 billion donated by Americans and their philanthropic institutions…

Other statistics also suggest that the nonprofit sector has drifted from core notions of charity. Nonprofit hospitals provide no more charity care than taxpaying counterparts do. While university assets soar, tuition continues to outpace inflation. Only a sliver of giving to churches is spent on social services…

So what is charity today if it is not aimed primarily at the have-nots? Has its definition been stretched so broadly that it no longer has meaning? If so, are the tax breaks that propel our philanthropy justified? Representative Bill Thomas, Republican of California, the chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, has raised those questions in a series of hearings examining whether tax exemption is justified for certain types of nonprofits.

The question, in his words, is, ‘What is the taxpayer getting in return for the tens of billions of dollars per year in tax subsidy’ offered to donors through tax write-offs or to nonprofits through their tax exemptions? According to the Treasury Department, the charitable deduction will amount this year to a $40 billion tax subsidy, mostly to upper-income households – overshadowing the roughly $20 billion the human services sector is likely to raise. No official estimates exist for the cost of the tax exemption covering money that nonprofits spend and for the property they own.

The hearings have received little public notice but have terrified nonprofit leaders, more than a Senate Finance Committee threat to tighten regulation of charities.

‘When you start to ask what is the fundamental underlying rationale for tax exemption and the charitable deduction for donors, it leads to questions that are far more difficult to answer than questions about greater disclosure and better governance,’ said John D. Colombo, a tax-law professor at the University of Illinois who testified before Rep. Thomas. ‘It gets you to questions like, why should an institution with billions in the bank get tax exemption?’”

(Here is more than you ever wanted to know on the “questions about greater disclosure and better governance“…)

I am tempted to ask my own questions though… Does compassion need incentives? If you want to give $10… why would you want a $1 tax break? Why not simply give $9? What’s the point of this tax incentivized “giving”…? But I must be too simplistic here… I probably don’t know enough about the complex dynamics of the partnership between government and private (some call them “special”) interests… bla-bla… bla-bla… whatever…

That’s it for today… and may be for this year. Hopefully, I did not break too many laws by doing these extensive quotes.

Here is a mirror of this post on Aidpage.

Hey Digerati, Blogorati, Technorati…

“… CBS poll this month found that 51 percent of respondents believed humans were created in their present form by God. A further 30 percent said their creation was guided by God. Only 15 percent thought humans evolved from less advanced life forms over millions of years. Other polls show that only around a third of American adults accept the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe, even though the concept is virtually uncontested by scientists worldwide. ‘When we ask people what they know about science, just under 20 percent turn out to be scientifically literate,’ said Jon Miller, director of the center for biomedical communication at Northwestern University.” – from CNN.

What should I say… I spent a great many percent of my life in a country where way over 5o percent of the population used to believe that humans were created in their present form by The Great Wheel of History.

Hey digerats, blogorats, technorats… are you with us… or against us?

Just joking… :)