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November 01, 2011


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I keep seeing Mr. B.S. in a giant hoop-spirt and powdered wig: "Let them eat cake," he says, "and then get them out of here!"


As much as I would enjoy having large skirts and powdered wigs come back into fashion, I don't see Bill Schambra as one of the Hapsburgs. Through our conversations and from reading what he's written, I gather that he's a "small government" conservative; of the communitarian school, philosophically, and the noblesse oblige school, philanthropically.

He has championed the work of community-based organizations on many occasions. The last time I suggested that we each of us commit to campaigning for a steady source of public (i.e., tax dollar) support for these important grassroots organizations, his response was that liberals believe they can solve every problem through taxation.

The problem with depending on private support for critical work in low-income communities is that donors are very fickle (and some, like the Elizabeth Brinn Foundation, spend themselves out entirely). In addition, grassroots organizations fritter away an inordinate amount of their time chasing these donor dollars. If we all agree that the work they do is an important public good, why shouldn't we then pay taxes to support it?

So, while Bill Schambra might not be suggesting that poor people eat cake, it seems to me that he wants to have his cake and eat it too.

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