The New York Times is not exactly renowned for libertarian views but this particular oped – where the author complains about excessive private philanthropy – is staggeringly regressive even by their standards.
Indeed, the article, after acknowledging that private philanthropy in the US exceeds that of any other country, goes on to state:
Critics of government spending argue that America’s private sector does a better job making socially necessary investments. But it doesn’t. Public spending is allocated democratically among competing demands. Rich benefactors can spend on anything they want, and they tend to spend on projects close to their hearts.
Philanthropic contributions are usually tax-free. They directly reduce the government’s ability to engage in public spending. Perhaps the government should demand a role in charities’ allocation of resources in exchange for the tax deduction. Or maybe the deduction should go altogether. Experts estimate that tax breaks motivate 25 percent to 30 percent of contributions.
In any event, social needs, like those health clinics, are not about charity. They are a necessity. America needs a government that can and will pay for them.
Rajiv Gandhi, the former Indian Prime Minister, once said that for every rupee spent by the government, only fifteen paise reaches the intended recipients. I suspect that the fraction is even lower.
It is precisely because private benefactors care for their projects that the money is likely to reach their destination and be well used.