How Good is the Goodman Foundation for Madison?

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kurt_w
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Re: How Good is the Goodman Foundation for Madison?

Postby kurt_w » Thu Jun 11, 2015 12:22 am

dogmeat wrote:
fflambeau wrote:Transparency doesn't just mean that a foundation has a responsibility to its family donors. It also means that there is an obligation to the society the foundation operates in.

That is complete nonsense. A charity or foundation has no obligation to society at all. Anything they do for society is a voluntary choice. That choice allows them to pick which issues or people they help.

OK, I've defended the Goodmans and heaped derision on the OP, but ... this goes a bit far in the opposite direction. Any time anyone starts throwing around a lot of money, it has effects, not all of which will be positive for every viewpoint. For example, let's say I generously donated tens of millions of dollars to the city of Cair Paravel, for a new arts center. Gosh, I'm generous. Except the city wants it to go on land that's already in use, so they exercise eminent domain and take over the site, evicting residents to make way for my arts center. Then there's cost overruns and operating expenses the city ends up shouldering. In the surrounding neighborhood it increases traffic and drives up property values, meaning it also drives up property taxes. Etc etc etc.

Now my donation might still, on balance, be a good thing, but even the most generous and altruistic actions by a charity can have secondary effects that might inadvertently create hardships for lots of people. So, some scrutiny of and public debate about the actions of even wholly private charities is reasonable.

One could come up with lots of other examples, real and hypothetical. I have nothing against art centers, whether publicly or privately funded.

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Re: How Good is the Goodman Foundation for Madison?

Postby Stu Levitan » Thu Jun 11, 2015 6:28 am

All those land use and budget decisions, of course, are undertaken by municipal government, subject to all public meetings and public records laws.Just as the land use actions regarding the Goodman Community Center and Goodman Community Pool were. Yes, and the Overture Center for the Arts, too. That's where the scrutiny and public debate about the philanthropic actions takes place; a peak inside the Goodman Foundation or the 202 State Foundation would add nothing.

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Re: How Good is the Goodman Foundation for Madison?

Postby FJD » Thu Jun 11, 2015 8:57 am

kurt_w wrote:
dogmeat wrote:
fflambeau wrote:Transparency doesn't just mean that a foundation has a responsibility to its family donors. It also means that there is an obligation to the society the foundation operates in.

That is complete nonsense. A charity or foundation has no obligation to society at all. Anything they do for society is a voluntary choice. That choice allows them to pick which issues or people they help.

OK, I've defended the Goodmans and heaped derision on the OP, but ... this goes a bit far in the opposite direction. Any time anyone starts throwing around a lot of money, it has effects, not all of which will be positive for every viewpoint. For example, let's say I generously donated tens of millions of dollars to the city of Cair Paravel, for a new arts center. Gosh, I'm generous. Except the city wants it to go on land that's already in use, so they exercise eminent domain and take over the site, evicting residents to make way for my arts center.


I don't think that the negative effect is on you though. If Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy decide that Mr Tumnus or Mr Beaver are going to need to find new digs so that a new art center can be built that's kind of on them.

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Re: How Good is the Goodman Foundation for Madison?

Postby snoqueen » Thu Jun 11, 2015 10:33 am

If somebody has a complaint about the way the Goodman foundation chooses to spend its money, framing it as a discussion of community needs and priorities makes more sense than complaining about the foundation's structure and practices. Both those are legal and are not at issue.

I think the foundation has done so much good for Madison (I'm particularly appreciative of the neighborhood initiatives) that I give them a pass on the MATC athletic field thing. I admit I don't get it and think it's an odd priority, but perhaps I am not the intended user and enough intended (or potential) users exist to justify the plans.

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Re: How Good is the Goodman Foundation for Madison?

Postby kurt_w » Thu Jun 11, 2015 1:08 pm

snoqueen wrote:If somebody has a complaint about the way the Goodman foundation chooses to spend its money, framing it as a discussion of community needs and priorities makes more sense than complaining about the foundation's structure and practices. Both those are legal and are not at issue.

I think the foundation has done so much good for Madison (I'm particularly appreciative of the neighborhood initiatives) that I give them a pass on the MATC athletic field thing. I admit I don't get it and think it's an odd priority, but perhaps I am not the intended user and enough intended (or potential) users exist to justify the plans.

I agree, in general and specifically with regards to the Goodman Foundation. I think the demand that GF "needs" to have a website is ridiculous.

But ... I do think it's fair to have some debate about what role a charity plays. Even if it's well-intentioned and entirely private, it's possible for a charity to have some non-trivial negative impacts on people. If a charity comes in from the outside and tries to help some people, they may end up hurting others.

I'm not by any means anti-charity, just pushing back against the idea that anybody should be entirely off-limits for scrutiny or criticism.

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Re: How Good is the Goodman Foundation for Madison?

Postby dogmeat » Thu Jun 11, 2015 3:57 pm

I can't think of any action a charity could take that would have a negative impact upon some that would not require a government issued permit/approval and would also be exempted from criminal or civil action. I think you're making a red herring argument.

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Re: How Good is the Goodman Foundation for Madison?

Postby kurt_w » Thu Jun 11, 2015 11:33 pm

dogmeat wrote:I can't think of any action a charity could take that would have a negative impact upon some that would not require a government issued permit/approval and would also be exempted from criminal or civil action. I think you're making a red herring argument.

Really? I could easily crank out a dozen (hypothetical) examples.

Here is one:

Large environmental NGO uses private funds to buy up land that generations of local people in the little village of Beaversdam have used for hunting, fishing, logging, etc. The land is turned into a nature preserve and the local people aren't allowed to hunt/fish/log there any more.

Do you think those people might have a reasonable claim that the charity was not acting in a way that was beneficial to the community?

Here's another one:

Church members raise funds to "help" people in a village in Rwanda. The village has a mix of families from two different ethnic groups, with a lot of tension between them. The church charity's agent in the village is from ethnic group A, and so he (legally) steers all the aid towards families of ethnic group A. This influx of money and resources gives group A more power in town -- their children are more likely to survive, they have more money to buy up land, cattle, etc. The uneasy balance between A and B that existed before the outside world began favoring one over the other has been completely destabilized.

How do you think families in ethnic group B will feel about this?

One could easily come up with more examples. I get the feeling that you would have no problem accepting the idea that well-intentioned actions by government could have negative consequences. But the same is true for well-intentioned actions by charities, or businesses, or private individuals. Is that really so unfathomable?

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Re: How Good is the Goodman Foundation for Madison?

Postby dogmeat » Fri Jun 12, 2015 10:31 am

kurt_w wrote:Large environmental NGO uses private funds to buy up land that generations of local people in the little village of Beaversdam have used for hunting, fishing, logging, etc. The land is turned into a nature preserve and the local people aren't allowed to hunt/fish/log there any more.

So in your example the local people sell the land and then can't benefit from the land anymore? They weren't forced to sell the land. It was a choice.

We are talking about a foundation that operates inside the United States so I don't know why you're using third world examples. A lot of goofy things can happen in the third world because there is no working system of protecting individuals from infringement.

I get the feeling that you would have no problem accepting the idea that well-intentioned actions by government could have negative consequences. But the same is true for well-intentioned actions by charities, or businesses, or private individuals. Is that really so unfathomable?

When the government does something to infringe upon someone there is sometimes no recourse. An example of that would be eminent domain abuse. It has been established that the governments power to seize property is practically absolute. An individual could attempt to fight it, but they will lose.

When an individual or non-governmental group infringes the rights of someone, an injunction and payment for damages can be pursued in civil court in addition to possible criminal action.

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Re: How Good is the Goodman Foundation for Madison?

Postby fflambeau » Sat Jun 13, 2015 12:56 am

Dogmeat: "I can't think of any action a charity could take that would have a negative impact upon some that would not require a government issued permit/approval and would also be exempted from criminal or civil action. I think you're making a red herring argument."

Sorry, hard to understand your point filled as it is with double negatives. Are you saying that it is impossible for a charity to have a negative impact upon anyone because they would then run afoul of government permits and or criminal or civil actions?

How about the Clinton Foundation and its taking of donations from foreign governments?

Or, John D. Rockefeller funding an extremely right wing university (Chicago) knowing full well that it would perpetuate his kind of "economics".

Or how about Foundation X that is set up really as a benefit to the founder's family (who then sit in cushy jobs doing little) and a tax shelter and which distributes very little each year for any good to humankind.

Neither action is likely criminal and neither action would run afoul of permits or the danger of civil law suits. But are these actions good for society. My third example, by the way, Foundation X, is very common. Note that the man who now controls the Goodman Foundation is a tax shelter specialist.

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Re: How Good is the Goodman Foundation for Madison?

Postby dogmeat » Sat Jun 13, 2015 1:44 am

fflambeau wrote:Sorry, hard to understand your point filled as it is with double negatives. Are you saying that it is impossible for a charity to have a negative impact upon anyone because they would then run afoul of government permits and or criminal or civil actions?

It is not a difficult concept. When any individual or group infringes upon your rights you have a recourse with the courts.

How about the Clinton Foundation and its taking of donations from foreign governments?

That foundation is being closely looked at and her former employer (State Dept) is supposedly looking into possible conflicts of interests.

Or, John D. Rockefeller funding an extremely right wing university (Chicago) knowing full well that it would perpetuate his kind of "economics".

Then you run out into left field, jump the green monster and get lost out in the wheat fields. Are you seriously going to pretend that the Chicago School of Economics is not credible and a leader in their field just because you apparently prefer Keynesian economics? Given that you believe you can spend Goodman's money better than they do it doesn't surprise me at all that you would be a strong Keynesian supporter.

You're basically talking out your ass by describing the University of Chicago as "extremely right wing". Do you not know that the University of Chicago is the lead sponsor of the Obama Presidential Library? They also hired Obama as a fellow for two years and a lecturer for twelve years.

Where do you get your information?

Or how about Foundation X that is set up really as a benefit to the founder's family (who then sit in cushy jobs doing little) and a tax shelter and which distributes very little each year for any good to humankind.

You do realize that their is an entire division of the IRS with the purpose of reviewing charities? When they find fake charities that do the kind of thing you describe they prosecute.

Neither action is likely criminal and neither action would run afoul of permits or the danger of civil law suits. But are these actions good for society. My third example, by the way, Foundation X, is very common. Note that the man who now controls the Goodman Foundation is a tax shelter specialist.

So are you now accusing Goodman Foundation or the sole employee of being criminal?

If you would have just been honest from the start you might have been better received, but probably not. You don't actually care about transparency. You care about what they spend their money on. You don't like that they're funding improvements to the athletic fields over at MATC and you want to see what else they're doing that you disagree with. Except you can't because they don't have to release that information.

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Re: How Good is the Goodman Foundation for Madison?

Postby kurt_w » Sat Jun 13, 2015 3:17 am

dogmeat wrote:
kurt_w wrote:Large environmental NGO uses private funds to buy up land that generations of local people in the little village of Beaversdam have used for hunting, fishing, logging, etc. The land is turned into a nature preserve and the local people aren't allowed to hunt/fish/log there any more.

So in your example the local people sell the land and then can't benefit from the land anymore? They weren't forced to sell the land. It was a choice.

No, in my example someone else sells land that they used to allow local people to access, whether for free (hunting/fishing) or by selling the timber for logging. They of course have every right to sell the land, and the new owner has every right to change longstanding practice and forbid people from using the land.

This is an extremely common scenario in rural forest lands of the northern US. Things like this happen all the time (albeit the new owner is not usually a Nature-Conservancy style charity). Lots of places, people have traditionally been allowed to hunt/fish/whatever on unposted land owned by, e.g., forest products companies. When the land is sold, people sometimes lose access to it.

I can already see you saying "So what, the new owners have a right to do what they want with their land." That's the whole point. I'm not talking about "rights" at all. Yes, charities have a right to do whatever they want (as long as it's legal) with their funds. But sometimes they can exercise that right in a way that negatively impacts the community.

It boggles my mind that you're still unable to grasp this concept. I think you're assuming that if something doesn't involve fraud or illegitimate use of coercion, we're somehow not allowed to describe it as "bad" in any way. That's extremely short-sighted.

dogmeat wrote:We are talking about a foundation that operates inside the United States so I don't know why you're using third world examples.

This (hypothetical) example was hypothetically set in Maine, USA. Not the third world. The other example was set in Africa. I wanted to show that a wide range of examples are available.

dogmeat wrote:
kurt_w wrote:I get the feeling that you would have no problem accepting the idea that well-intentioned actions by government could have negative consequences. But the same is true for well-intentioned actions by charities, or businesses, or private individuals. Is that really so unfathomable?

When the government does something to infringe upon someone there is sometimes no recourse. An example of that would be eminent domain abuse. [...] When an individual or non-governmental group infringes the rights of someone, an injunction and payment for damages can be pursued in civil court in addition to possible criminal action.

Again, I'm not talking about "rights" at all. There are lots of things I could do legally and fairly that you would see as unfortunate or tragic or upsetting or infuriating, whether I'm a government or a private charity or a private business or a private individual.

If my actions are in fact legal, you may have no recourse. But you still have the right to express your opinion of them! You can even try to drum up community opposition, if you think that the (perfectly legal and aboveboard) actions I'm taking really are bad for the community. You could launch a boycott of my business, or try to dissuade others from donating to my charity, or whatever.

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Re: How Good is the Goodman Foundation for Madison?

Postby dogmeat » Sat Jun 13, 2015 12:05 pm

If the action is legal and causes no infringement then there is nothing to complain about. There is a major problem in America of people feigning outrage and injury when none actually occurred. What you have a right to is what matters.

So you can no longer use someone's land for your benefit? That is not a negative impact. That is the loss of an undeserved benefit. I have a neighbor with that uses his tractor to plow most of the sidewalks in area. That is a form a charity. He's older and someday he won't be able to do that anymore. When that happens it is not a negative impact. A lot of people in the neighborhood will have to start shoveling snow for the first time, but that is something they would have otherwise had to do.

You don't have a right to not be offended or upset. You also don't have a right to get things for free. If an action is legal and infringes upon no one, then it is not a bad action. You can disagree with it, but don't pretend it is bad.

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Re: How Good is the Goodman Foundation for Madison?

Postby rabble » Sat Jun 13, 2015 6:17 pm

dogmeat wrote:If the action is legal and causes no infringement then there is nothing to complain about. There is a major problem in America of people feigning outrage and injury when none actually occurred. What you have a right to is what matters.

And there's a whole slew of things addressed in a nutshell. It doesn't matter if anyone is actually outraged. If you yourself can't see the outrage, then it's a non issue. No trying to understand the other, none of this "walk a mile in their footsteps" crap. If you can boil it down to a yes or no issue on rights, and you yourself are satisfied, then fuck 'em.

I wonder how any existing laws got passed. Might it be because there was outrage but no laws against it at the time?

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Re: How Good is the Goodman Foundation for Madison?

Postby kurt_w » Sun Jun 14, 2015 12:16 am

dogmeat wrote:If the action is legal and causes no infringement then there is nothing to complain about.

Thanks to the First Amendment, people have this thing called "freedom of speech." One consequence is that they get to express their opinions about things.

But for the moment, let's run with your absurdly reductionist claim that one cannot complain about another person's actions unless their action explicitly infringes on your rights. In your very next sentence, you break your own rule:

dogmeat wrote:There is a major problem in America of people feigning outrage and injury when none actually occurred.

Unless these people (whoever they are) actually infringed your rights, you cannot criticize them. But you just did criticize them. You're doing exactly what you want to stop others from doing.

You're attempting to redefine "rights" to include only the right to property, not the right to free speech. But you can't make your own argument without the existence of free speech.
Last edited by kurt_w on Sun Jun 14, 2015 11:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How Good is the Goodman Foundation for Madison?

Postby snoqueen » Sun Jun 14, 2015 11:11 am

Doesn't count. The only one that counts is the Second.

Dog is a strict materialist, by the way, one who acknowledges no other reality -- not social, not moral -- beyond the material.


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