Once again, we are hearing legislators shortsightedly calling for the banning of NGOs from the state budget.
Ironically, as a logical corollary to their distrust of government, one of the proffered solutions is privatization, or delegating the work under contract to private corporations, which, according to this world view, can be counted on to be more cost-effective.
The vast majority of NGOs, in fact, do just this: provide services cost-effectively and without the expense of profit.
Of course, there are some misbehaving or noncompliant NGOs, but these are ones that were championed by members of the Legislature itself.
The proper regulation and oversight of these allocations is the responsibility of the governor and the Legislature, who have the responsibility of sorting the wheat from the chaff in the public interest.
As the president of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, an NGO, I can attest to our own unmatched cost-effectiveness during the almost two decades we received direct state funding.
And yet, predictable as flooding after rain, when the state budget season is upon us, those self-same proponents of the efficacy of profit-driven companies perversely demonize the single most cost-effective organizations in the economy: the nonprofit corporations or NGOs.
Study after study over the past two decades has shown that the nonprofit sector is the fastest-growing part of the economy and in most cases the most cost-effective.
Why? Because when operated properly, they are the perfect hybrid between on the one hand the commitment to the public good that government ought to be and, on the other hand, employing the most sophisticated entrepreneurial practices without the cost and diversion into private pockets of profit.
Defunding programs such as the LEH and gratuitously demonizing them and other NGOs as if we in any way have been responsible for the state’s fiscal woes is dishonest and shortsighted in the extreme, and only the most cynical and ignorant of ideologues could do so.
A true conservative would conclude that the saving grace and greatest cost-effectiveness of public cultural and educational programming is by the NGOs.
Strangle them at your own risk.
Michael Sartisky, president
Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities