May 10, 2008

The Color of Irony Is Crimson

Monique Chartier

In a leave-no-stone-unturned search for more revenue, the Massachusetts legislature has ordered a study of the implementation of a 2.5% "annual assessment" on college and university endowments which exceed $1 billion. Nine Massachusetts institutions of higher learning would be affected by what would be a first of its kind assessment.

Glenn Beck points out the fabulous reaction of an official of one of the institutions that would fall into that category. Harvard's Associate Vice-President for Government, Community and Public Affairs, Kevin Casey:

You'd be taxing success here.

* * *

Over time this would put us at a real competitive disadvantage which would drastically hurt the Commonwealth.

[Can we get him to address the Rhode Island General Assembly?]

Beck breaks it down.

No, you're kidding me. It's like you're taxing success by taxing people who are making money and who happen to be richer than others? You're taxing success? Boy, Kevin, I never looked at it that way. You might be onto something there. "Over time this would put us at a real competitive disadvantage." No, it would put Harvard at a disadvantage against those who didn't get taxed? No. Who might pay a lower tax? It might put that company at a disadvantage? No, no, Kevin, you're looking at it wrong.

* * *

In the final insult to injury he goes on to say, "And it would hurt the commonwealth. It would hurt the state." How? How? Are you saying because Harvard wouldn't be able to have so much money so they couldn't grow? So they couldn't hire more people? They couldn't bring more people into the state? I never thought of that when I was thinking about taxes and companies. I just thought, oh, they're screwing the state; the bigger they get, the more people they hire, the more people that live here. It's crazy. It's almost like you're talking about the philosophy of, oh, I don't know, Texas. It's almost like you're describing the philosophy of, oh, I don't know, a conservative. It's like you're taxing success. No, Kevin, you're wrong. It's not like we're taxing success. We would be taxing success.

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You're speaking cess. We shouldn't tax success. We should tax excess.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at May 10, 2008 9:27 PM

Taxing Brown's $40 billion sounds good to me. They will have to raise tuition on the Communist scum who go there. Maybe we will see less unwanted out of state garbage shipped to the state from places like NY, Baltimore and Kentucky. Don't forget Kentucky.

Posted by: Mike at May 11, 2008 8:26 AM

What a hate filled post. You have again substituted invective for reason. Really, you should relax a bit. Drink some Kool Aid or something. What do you think of extending the tax on institutions of higher learning to include religious institutions?

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at May 11, 2008 10:37 AM

Mike-Funny you should mention the guy from Kentucky-Jerzyk was in a back and forth with someone on RI's Future about Obama not wearing a flag pin and he made an observation that even for him is exceedingly crass-words to the effect that people who wear lapel pins are cowards trying to prove something-well,as I've mentioned elsewhere I get all my medical care at the VA Medical Center and whenever I'm there,I notice most of the patients,myself included wear some representation of the flag or a military emblem,be it a hat,patch or pin.I don't think Mr.Jerzyk will find many cowards there,nor people with something to prove-he ought to listen to himself sometimes and realize how truly idiotic some of his comments are.He may not want to believe this,but he and his friends have the lives they do because others put their asses in harm's way throughout our history.Or maybe he thinks he owes his freedoms to a turd like Steven Brown.I personally have always flown the flag in front of whatever house I lived in because to me it represents the good fortune to be a citizen of the greatest country in the world,whatever faults we may have.The flag to me is never an endorsement of any political point of view or even worse,any politician.

Posted by: joe bernstein at May 11, 2008 3:17 PM

OTL-I think taxing universities which are religious institutions is okay as long as the university is open to all faiths,in which case it doesn't seem to me to be covered by the tax exemption on such places as houses of worship or seminaries.I think all the universities-Brown,J&W,Bryant,PC,RW,Salve,etc should be taxed-what are they going to do if they don't like it-move?Ha!

Posted by: joe bernstein at May 11, 2008 3:21 PM

Harvard has $34billion. Brown has $1.5billion or so; Harvard makes more than double Brown's endowment in investment income every year.

That said, at what point do you decide the top few dozen university endowments indicate that they are running an investment business first and foremost? Harvard, Princeton and Yale have long been there. I don't have an answer, but with apologies to an old short Forbes article, here's what a man from Mars would make of universities:

The purpose of a university is, in order of importance

1) invest the endowment
2) solicit alums for more endowment to invest
3) provide an incubator for the propeller-head profs to use to create new patentable technologies that can be licensed for money
4) collect revenue from semi-pro sports teams in basketball and football - the two sports too beknighted to have farm teams of their own
5) provide grad student slave labor (but I repeat myself) for the propeller heads to help with research
6) to even out investment income and growth, do a little well-compensated training on the side

Posted by: chuckR at May 11, 2008 9:28 PM

Actually, you'd start by looking at the endowment as a multiple of annual operating budget. Harvard's is 10X annual budget; Brown's is 2X annual budget. Princeton, richest of all, has a higher multiple than Harvard, maybe 14X(?). What happens if you hold their feet to the fire the same way you do with foundations - say, you must provide 5% per year against budget to maintain tax exempt status?

BTW, this ain't something a state like MA can do unilaterally and most certainly not RI.

Posted by: chuckR at May 11, 2008 9:58 PM

Kool-Aid was of course drunken by the followers of the "reverend" Jim Jones, a San Francisco based Communist and atheist who idolized the Soviet Union and migrated to Marxist Guyana.
Keep drinking it.

"The Peoples Temple purported to practice what it called "apostolic socialism."[4] In doing so, the Temple preached to established members that "religion is an opiate of the people."[5] Accordingly, "those who remained drugged with the opiate of religion had to be brought to enlightenment -- socialism."[6] In that regard, Jones also openly stated that he "took the church and used the church to bring people to atheism."[7] Jones mixed those concepts, such as preaching that "If you're born in this church, this socialist revolution, you're not born in sin. If you're born in capitalist America, racist America, fascist America, then you're born in sin. But if you're born in socialism, you're not born in sin."[5]"

"Jones' reading of the news usually portrayed the United States as a "capitalist" and "imperialist" villain, while casting "socialist" leaders such as former North Korean dicatator Kim Il-sung ("great leader of the revolution, is in the vanguard of the Korean working class"), Robert Mugabe ("long known for his communist inspiration to the people of Zimbabwe and one of the revolutionary heroes") and Joseph Stalin (disturbed by people criticizing Stalin) in a positive light."

"When people later perhaps cried or became apprehensive after seeing the poison take effect on others, Jones commanded "Stop this hysterics. This is not the way for people who are Socialists or Communists to die. No way for us to die. We must die with some dignity."

Posted by: Mike at May 11, 2008 10:22 PM

Thanks for posting that list of a university's priorities, ChuckR.

"this ain't something a state like MA can do unilaterally and most certainly not RI."

So from whom do they need the authority?

Posted by: Monique at May 11, 2008 10:28 PM

>>Mike-Funny you should mention the guy from Kentucky-Jerzyk was in a back and forth with someone on RI's Future about Obama not wearing a flag pin and he made an observation that even for him is exceedingly crass-words to the effect that people who wear lapel pins are cowards trying to prove something

Of course Jerzyk wouldn't have any similar comments to make about the AIDS ribbons that we de rigeur not so many yeas ago at the Oscar awards and such.

To the lefty whackos, showing love for this beacon of hope of a country is to be frowned upon, while showing "solidarity" with people who acquired a fatal sexually transmitted disease by choosing to engage in reckless and deviant behavior is, well, noble and compassionate.

Posted by: Ragin' Rhode Islander at May 11, 2008 11:48 PM

Just reading over the information I posted on the San Francisco based Kool-Aid drinking Jim Jones cult I see the following about Jones.

1. Communist
2. Atheist
3. Idolized Soviet Union, North Korea, Mugabe, etc.
4. Sexually attracted to other men's hairy anuses

Sounds like a perfect description of your average RI Futurite!

Posted by: Mike at May 12, 2008 8:28 AM


What I meant was that here is an action where it wouldn't be prudent to lead - more taxes in RI, already one of the most heavily taxed states. And a lot of people still think of Taxachusetts, even if by comparison its now better than RI. Matter of perception. Of course, the pols can do it anyway. Its a wonderful class warfare populist thing, so this isn't the last we'll hear of it. I like the idea of suasion to refocus them on education - 5% of Harvards endowment would pay half their budget - more than tuition pays now. The same for Brown would pay about a fifth. Also, I think PILOT programs are a no-brainer.

Disclosure - I'm a Brown engineering grad and have worked in such 'pinko' areas as nuclear, oil and gas exploration, aerospace, maritime, defense and biomedical products. The production of red berets and che t-shirts, not so much.

Posted by: chuckR at May 12, 2008 8:58 AM
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