Monday, October 29, 2007

Roger Chapin, Profiteer

An article in the September 3, 2007, Forbes Magazine was pointed out to me, a follow-up to an article last December. Both were about Roger Chapin, a self-described "nonprofit entrepreneur" who runs, and has run, a large number of nonprofit organizations. And it appears they're not quite the charitable organizations they claim to be.

There's a strong hint of this early in the December article:

Chapin's biggest venture is Help Hospitalized Veterans, a Winchester, Calif. charity that hauled in donations of $71 million for the year ended in July. HHV's primary mission, as stated on its Web home page: providing free therapeutic arts-and-crafts kits to GIs recovering from injuries. The hobby sets are evidently much appreciated by these veterans. But of every dollar spent in the fiscal year only nine cents went for the kits, plus another five cents for associated overhead and for counselors to visit hospitals and nursing homes.
47¢ out of every $1 Help Hospitalized Veterans raised went to sending junk mail asking for donations.

Another Chapin nonprofit, the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes Foundation, says its function is "to help our severely wounded and disabled" soldiers from Middle East strife "rebuild their lives." Yet nearly 80% of the $26 million spent in 2006 by the Coalition "represented the purported value of 1.5 million calling cards given to uninjured soldiers serving in the Middle East. These cards allowed the soldiers to check sports scores back home but couldn't be used to call, say, family. The cards were donated by ez Scores, of Silver Spring, Md." [emphasis added]

Those calling cards highlight another problem in these linked nonprofits — one that could be considered an issue of creative accounting. When ez Scores contributed the calling cards to Help Hospitalized Veterans, they were counted as a contribution there. When HHV passed them to the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes Foundation, they were counted as supporting HHV's mission and as a contribution to the Coalition, thus improving the statistics for both groups with a paper transfer between groups controlled by the same individual. If the calling cards are counted only for the Coalition, who actually gave them to (uninjured) soldiers, then HHV had contributions of $51 million and that 47¢ out of every $1 that went to junk mail advertising (mentioned above) is really 67¢ out of every $1 raised.

The one thing Roger Chapin's nonprofit organizations are good at is supporting Roger Chapin. He and his wife got just under a half million dollars in total compensation from Help Hospitalized Veterans in 2005, and well over that in 2006. And that's not counting hundreds of thousands of dollars in "unreimbursed expenses" and a $445,000 condo near Washington, DC. And Lord knows what else. That means what Help Hospitalized Veterans has really done is (1) generate lots of junk mail, (2) support Roger Chapin's lavish lifestyle, and (3) mask these with a lot of creative accounting and pseudo-legal manipulations.

I don't like going with something based on a single source, even a good source like Forbes Magazine, but it looks to me like this is a man who is using America's soldiers — including severely wounded soldiers — for his own profit.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Parallel Universes

Michael Yon posted a new article from Iraq on Monday. It begins

Resistance is futile: You will be (mis)informed.
A gulf. A gap. A chasm. A parallel universe. All describe the bizarro-world contrast between what most Americans seem to think is happening in Iraq versus what is really happening in Iraq. Knowing this disconnect exists and experiencing it directly are two separate matters. It’s like the difference between holding the remote control during the telecast of a volcanic eruption on some distant island (and then flipping the channel), versus running for survival from a wretch of molten lava that just engulfed your car.
Not having been to Iraq, I haven't been hit as hard by this as Yon has. But I have noted the major discrepancies between the observations of the soldiers and embedded reporters there and the reports published by the New York Times, the Associated Press, and other "mainstream media" outlets. And I have seen that the reports in the "mainstream media" consistently undercut the troops and their mission.

This is important because the Global War on Terror (the War Against "Islamic" Fascism) is important. As Yon notes, this is

a war of such strategic consequence that it will affect generations yet unborn — whether or not they want it to. Hiding under the covers will not work, because whether it is good news or bad, whether it is true or untrue, once information is widely circulated, it has such formidable inertia that public opinion seems impervious to the corrective balm of simple and clear facts.

Definitely read the whole thing. And consider supporting Michael Yon and the others that are there trying to help us understand what's really going on there. Lord knows the "mainstream media" won't be of any help.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Illegal Aliens Issue

Immigration reform — which some call an issue of illegal immigration — is a hot issue, and I've intended to write about it for some time — preferably at a time when we might be able to discuss it with at least a little rationality. Maybe now is the time to begin.

Let's start with a couple of very basic, very general, key principles:

1. We need to make it a lot harder to come here illegally.
2. We need to make it a lot easier to come here legally.
Number 1 seems to be self-evident. The large number of people who have crossed our borders without documents and the commerce of the drug cartels and coyotes should make it quite plain, even if the Border Patrol hadn't been finding jackets with jihadi patches abandoned near the border.

Number 2 may seem less evident to some. But it is clear that the current immigration quotas are absurdly low. If that were not so, there would be nothing to draw all the undocumented workers. (It can be argued that this is a chicken-and-egg question. Either the workers are drawn here because the quotas are set absurdly low so that job needs cannot be filled, or the quotas have been deliberately set absurdly low in an attempt to compensate for the additional workers here. The result is the same either way.) It is also absolutely unconscionable — if not criminal — that it takes U.S. citizens five to ten years (or more) to bring their legitimately married foreign-born husbands and wives into the U.S. legally.

We really should have done something about the immigration issue long ago. We've known for years that we have (and have had) a growing problem, and have chosen to do nothing about it. That's part of why the problem is so big now. I think most will agree it has now reached the point that we can no longer afford to do nothing.

Just as important is that, however much the more extreme positions on either side may have going for them, they are and will remain non-starters. We simply cannot do "just this" or "only that", and I doubt we ever really could. The immigration issue is multifaceted, and any attempt to solve it must be as well. And that's only part of why some form of comprehensive reform is necessary — but perhaps it is a hint of why the reform's individual elements are of critical importance.

To identify what the proper elements are, we first need to consider what the “immigration issue” is, and what it is not.

What this issue is not is

• an immigration issue
Most of the “illegal immigrants” — more accurately, illegal aliens — do not intend to immigrate. They don't (at least initially) intend to come here to stay. They just want to have jobs here so they can send money back to their homes and families outside the U.S. What pushes some (many?) to stay and become immigrants is the uncertainty of moving back and forth across the border, which brings them to stay put, and put down roots. For many (most?) of these “immigrants”, ties to their homelands would remain dominant if they could be sure they could visit home and return to their jobs in the U.S.

What this issue is is

• a labor issue
• a law enforcement issue
• a security issue
It's a labor issue because many illegal aliens are coming here and getting jobs. That means at least two things:
1. There are jobs available. These aliens wouldn't come here if they couldn't get jobs.
2. There are jobs available. They wouldn't be available for aliens to take if they weren't unfilled by citizens and legal aliens.
That combination means there is an issue here that must be dealt with.

It's a law enforcement issue because there are so many in our prisons who are illegal aliens. And because so many of those are repeat offenders. The latter point, in particular, means that we don't deport illegal aliens who have committed serious crimes in this country and/or we don't keep these individuals from coming back into this country.

It's a security issue because Arab would-be terrorists have been able to enter this country illegally (as well as by misusing the legal entry system) to the point that there are now human smuggling operations (like the one in Chaparral, New Mexico) that focus on bringing Middle Eastern individuals across our borders because they can make a lot more money that way.

One final thing: This is an issue of fairness. It is unfair to those who try to come to the U.S. legally to so completely ignore those who come here illegally. It is unfair to the illegal aliens to make it easy for the unscrupulous, whether employers or criminals, to exploit them. And it is unfair to citizens and legal aliens to let exploited illegal aliens take jobs citizens and legal aliens would otherwise have. Indeed, it is hard to think of anyone the current situation is not unfair to. Except the criminals.

These are the issues that any "immigration reform" needs to address, and that must determine the provisions in any comprehensive immigration reform bill.

(You want to read more? See Jim Addison's take on the issue at Wizbang.)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

It's Official!

In his What's New e-mail newsletter for September 21 (see the newsletter archives here), Robert L Park of the University of Maryland reports

THE MORAL LAW: THE GENETIC BASIS OF THE GOLDEN RULE. The feature story in the Science Times section of Tuesday’s NY Times is based on the work of psychologist Jonathan Haidt, University of Virginia. It reinforces recent brain scanning studies that found "mirror cells" in the motor cortex (see For the full story of how evolution designed our universal sense of right and wrong, see "Moral Minds" by Marc D. Hauser (Harper-Collins, 2006).
That makes it official! If there is truly a genetic basis for "our universal sense of right and wrong," then the fact that people like Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Adolph Hitler, and Joseph Stalin (to name just a few) do not share that "universal sense" conclusively demonstrates that they are not just inhuman but clearly non-human.

Bill Clinton on the Terror Threat

James Taranto of the Opinion Journal Best of the Web column yesterday reports

Also, reader Stuart Creque makes a great point regarding that same item: "If we take Bill Clinton at his word that there was no terror threat in 1992, isn't it safe to say that a massive, world-wide terror threat developed on his watch?"
That sounds like a good point to me.