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View Diary: Updated: Florida Students Protest Koch Influence Over College Professors (104 comments)

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  •  Many endowments have "strings" attached (9+ / 0-)

    at both public and private colleges and universities. Those "strings" have never threatened the tax status of the contributions. Professors hired under an endowment don't provide any direct services to the person making the endowment gift and that's why they are tax deductible.

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 06:40:13 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Not when the strings specify ... (16+ / 0-)

      ... the defense and promotion of a particular viewpoint or set of narrow interests, as they often do.

      I know, challenges to 501(c)3's are very rare. In their magnanimity, the courts of law of this proud and mighty country have been very loath to interfere with the fundamental right of the rich and the poor alike to fund whatever they say fit in the 'marketplace of ideas', just like the law in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.

      But, frankly, tax-exempt purchases of PR services have gotten so baldly naked over the past two or three decades, that I think it's a venue worth trying.

      I deal in facts. My friends are few but fast.

      by Farugia on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 08:11:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Farugia - there is nothing in the tax code that (6+ / 0-)

        prohibits an endowed professorship to be restricted to someone who has the same interests and philosophy as the person making the gift. It happens frequently that a professor holding a named chair has to be approved by the person providing the endowment. Unless that person is providing services directly to the person providing the gift there is no valid tax challenge here. Sharing a political or economic philosophy with the person providing the endowment doesn't in any way change the tax character of the gift.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 08:26:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  IF that is true (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          spritegeezer

          and I do not believe it is by a fair reading of the tax code, then it needs to be changed.

          •  mcstowy - decades ago the Fortune 500 company (0+ / 0-)

            where I was a corporate officer, and senior executive of our Foundation, endowed a chair at my alma mater, a very well known public university in CA. We had perpetual veto rights over the person who was named to the endowed professorship. I think this is very common and has never been viewed by the IRS as having any influence over the tax status of the gift. In my case because the gift was from a tax-free foundation it really didn't matter, but even if given by a taxable entity it's not an issue. This is long standing IRS policy and I see no good reason for the IRS to change it. It's really up to the individual university to decide if they are comfortable with gifts that have restrictions. From the perspective of the IRS, as long as the gift isn't retrieved or returned there is no valid tax challenge.

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 11:39:20 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Just because something is... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mcstowy

              does not mean it is correct or proper.  The majority of the tax code was written long before we started force-feeding corporations as much subsidy and as many "tax-breaks" as they could possibly want.  The tax code is a product of people like you who take as much as you can then expect others to volunteer their services.  If you were an officer with a Fortune 500 corporation you were and are part of the problem.  Peddle your mind trash elsewhere.

              You will note that the Bill of Rights is now apparently a Bill of Concerns. Charles Pierce, Esquire Magazine Feb 2014

              by spritegeezer on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 03:15:02 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  spiritegeezer - you know little about me (0+ / 0-)

                or the contributions I make to the Democratic Party or this site. Your comment seems very harsh given that thirty years ago I was a Fortune 500 corporate officer. My nearly 35,000 comments have, for the most part, been well received here.

                If you want to change the culture and behavior of corporate America it is much more effective to do it from the inside, particularly by being a member of the senior management or board of directors. Those are the people who can actually affect change. We want more progressive Democrats in those positions, not fewer.

                I still don't understand the view of some in this thread that because someone making an endowment gift has influence or control over the people selected for the named professorship that it should negate the tax consequence of the endowment gift. In the context of tax law that makes no sense. The funds have been irrevocably gifted. That's the basis for the tax treatment.

                "let's talk about that"

                by VClib on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 05:13:27 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Just one point (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  mcstowy

                  This is a small digression, but it must be made, imo.  You claim that the best way to change corporate culture and behavior is to do it from the inside--from the top of the inside, that is.  That might be the best way to change things, but it will never happen.  That's because once you get there, you have already lost your way regarding what is good for ordinary workers as well as for ordinary people in the country.  

                  I have worked with top managers for many years, and there are very, very few who would, or could, actually effect any positive change.

                  Change is more likely to come from the society in which the corporation operates--IF the general public has enough power to vote in a government who is willing to make those changes.  The U.S. has already passed the time when we could do that, I think.  But some countries have done it, for example, the Scandinavian countries.

                  •  reasonshouldrule - I grew up in a walkup tenement (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    reasonshouldrule

                    the son of a depression era high school dropout. My parents lived paycheck to paycheck. I went to public schools from K through graduate school. I had no family connections or network to introduce me to Corporate America.  I was lucky, but also very good at my job and became a Fortune 500 corporate officer just after I turned 30. Please don't assume that I have "lost my way". I have started numerous companies, three of which became public companies. In those companies I was able to determine the culture and how we treated employees and we treated them very well. That's much easier to do from the top than the bottom.

                    I have also been the Chairman of the Compensation Committee of five public companies. If you want to restrict corporate executive pay, only reward real performance, and create compensation policies that treat all employees fairly,  that's a place where you can actually make that happen.

                    "let's talk about that"

                    by VClib on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 06:07:14 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Yes, you make a good point (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      VClib

                      However, there are very, very few people like you.  99% of the top management of companies believe and act differently.  In fact, they believe that it is NOT A GOOD THING to treat employees well or provide them with a decent life because that would, in their (false) rationalizations, "lead to a dependent kind of person."  Stifle innovation.  Etc. etc.

                      For the reality of how most companies operate, we need a government willing to enact and enforce strong regulations.

                      Both my husband and I have worked with companies all our lives, my husband as an environmental attorney, and truly, most companies WILL NOT take even the most basic of safety measures until forced to do so by law.

                      If most companies were run by people like you, we wouldn't have this problem.

                    •  Really seriously t (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      reasonshouldrule

                      The old boy network nurterd all executive pay committees look at yahoo yesterday.I dont doubt that you made a difference in the companies you set up but fortune 500 companies in the early eighties were much different to the companies today after all when was Gass-siegal repealed?
                      Unions were stronger then. Voodoo economics as invented by Milton had few supporters till Regan and Thatcher,the press was less biased and there were still traces of the shame culture and when people got caught out they resigned or better still got sacked without the size of golden parachutes now.Sorry i rate your claim that pay deals that were unreasonably high based because of performance as totally false/Look at what fund managers get paid and a lot even under perform the market i.e  you could do better yourself and save the huge fees

                •  If the funds have been irrevocably gifted, then (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  VClib, mcstowy

                  how can the Koch brothers take them back if the school hires professors they don't approve of?

                  "Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives." - John Stuart Mill, 1806 - 1873

                  by Terry S on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 07:05:49 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  If I understand the setup correctly (0+ / 0-)

                    they won't pay for people they don't like. They receive no tax benefit unless the funds are allocated or are irrevocably gifted. If the university isn't making payments to professors the endowment can just continue to grow. If the Koch's receive the funds back, there would be no tax benefit.

                    "let's talk about that"

                    by VClib on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 07:24:21 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Unless (0+ / 0-)

                      public universities are 100% supported with public funding, they will have a hard time turning down money from private sources.  And that leads to hiring professors who will have to be okayed by the private funders.  How can it not?  And, since money to public universities is being cut.......

                      •  For some campuses at the University of California (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        mcstowy

                        state funding represents a third or less of the funding. Much of the funding comes from research grants, student fees, and private contributions. Some of the graduate business and law schools now receive no state funds at all, and are self funded. When I was a UC student state funding was the overwhelming majority of the support. Student fees were very modest and a small percentage of the total funding.

                        Over the past forty years here in California the state budget has gone from funding education and infrastructure to funding transfer payments to individuals. I am not saying that is good or bad, it just reflects a change in our priorities.

                        "let's talk about that"

                        by VClib on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 08:22:48 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Doesn't (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          VClib

                          sound good to me.  What kind of "individuals?"  My grandson has applied to UC Berkeley, and we're in breath-holding mode.  He moved to CA last summer for an internship at UC Riverside and has taken a couple of courses at a CC in Oakland to keep making progress toward his degree.  Out-of-state tuition was too high for him to take more than two classes.  So now we're hoping for resident status and acceptance (not in that order), and it's tense, at least for me. I'm the resident worrier.

                          BTW, sorry about the rant someone directed at you for being a high-up in a Fortune 500 company.  We all know there have to be some good folks up there, but many here have been burned by one or more large corporations.  In my case, my son has been totally screwed, so there's some free-floating vitriol on this site.  I even had to tamp some down myself, when I read your post, and I try VERY hard not to use a broad brush.

                          •  What kind of individuals? (0+ / 0-)

                            According to the Democrats 20% of the people in the US who receive some type of monthly income from state government live in CA. The Republicans say the number is more like 30%. Even if you accept the Democrats numbers California with 12% of the nation's population is providing support to 20% of the people on state aid. That's not a sustainable ratio and those funds can't provide support to UC or the Cal-State systems.

                            "let's talk about that"

                            by VClib on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 10:06:33 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Thanks (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            VClib

                            for responding.  Our grandson's college education has been a real white knuckle ride for me.  And on it goes but now in CA, we hope.  He may have to go back to Cleveland State, if he doesn't get accepted at Berkeley AND attain resident status.  Cleveland has no classes in his major left for him to take, so that would be getting a degree just to get a degree--no progress whatsoever.  He's a fine young man and deserves better than this rocky road.

                          •  I don't take those kind of statements seriously (0+ / 0-)

                            I know where I have been and how I have treated others I have worked with, or who have worked for me. 95% of the people I have worked with, or who have worked for me, would join me again in an instant if I had a good opportunity for them. That's all that is important.

                            "let's talk about that"

                            by VClib on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 10:10:03 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Just as well (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            VClib

                            you shake them off.  I just wish my son had worked for someone like you.  Now he has corporate PTSD and sends out resumes while hating the idea of working for another impersonal corp.

            •  The law is (0+ / 0-)

              and always has been a weapon for the wealthy and powerful to oppress the powerless.  The THEORY of the deduction for charitable giving is that it promotes the public good.  Giving money to promote your own views is not promoting the public good.  That being said, this idea has always been "honored" in the breach.  The tax code is manipulated to benefit those whose wealth gives them access to decision makers, to the detriment of everyone else.      

    •  These gifts aren't through FSU's endowment (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rita5018, VClib

      These professors are hired outside of an endowment program, so FSU doesn't have the option of paying their salary through interest. And if Koch backs out, FSU is obligated to continue funding these professors as they prepare for a tenured position, as the new version of the Koch FSU contract demands.

    •  The point you've made is completely rational (0+ / 0-)

      And that's why it must be changed. How do we know that professors hired under an endowment don't provide any direct services to the person making the endowment gift, in this case the Koch brothers?

      Controlling the economics professors and curriculum will ultimately lower recruitment costs for Koch Industries on the FSU Campus, or over time create a legion of economists sympathetic to Koch's causes. If a progressive think tank does the case studies, an argument for taxing the donations could be made imho.

      •  If the professor provides direct services (0+ / 0-)

        to the Koch's it could influence the tax treatment of the endowment. The income to the professor is taxable in any event, so the only issue is the tax treatment to the Koch's. Educating college students in a manner that is sympathetic to free market economics and libertarian ideas isn't viewed as a direct benefit to the Koch's.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 05:16:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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