Williams defends endowment

Williams defends endowment

There are 56 comments on the Berkshire Eagle story from May 9, 2008, titled Williams defends endowment. In it, Berkshire Eagle reports that:

Massachusetts lawmakers have caught the attention of Williams College leadership with a proposal to study taxing any private college's endowment funds that exceed $1 billion.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Berkshire Eagle.

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Ray Miro

Williamstown, MA

#1 May 9, 2008
Unfortunately we seem to be caught between a rock and a hard place. I just wish that Williams would do a little (a lot) more for the Mt. Greylock Reg. HS facility. It would be quite a nice gesture on their part to help a floundering facility. If the donors would take their money elsewhere then it would be sad because the surrounding communities more than support the College in terms of workers and other volunteers. I am not casting stones at Williams ; I just wish they would kick in a large chunk to help rebuild a crumbling facility. The $20 million would be chump change for them and a great boost for Mt. Greylock.
Hugh Jardon

Williamsburg, MA

#2 May 9, 2008
It's good to be well endowed.
CJG

Northampton, MA

#3 May 9, 2008
This is nothing more than bloodsucking state legislators looking to steal money from people anyway they can for their pet vote-buying projects. This is revolting, these leaches in the government produce nothing, all they excel at is living off productive citizens and impeding progress. Williams has a lot of money - good for them, they give a lot of it to their community - good for them, state government, butt out!
Eric

AOL

#4 May 9, 2008
Ray Miro wrote:
Unfortunately we seem to be caught between a rock and a hard place. I just wish that Williams would do a little (a lot) more for the Mt. Greylock Reg. HS facility. It would be quite a nice gesture on their part to help a floundering facility. If the donors would take their money elsewhere then it would be sad because the surrounding communities more than support the College in terms of workers and other volunteers. I am not casting stones at Williams ; I just wish they would kick in a large chunk to help rebuild a crumbling facility. The $20 million would be chump change for them and a great boost for Mt. Greylock.
Williamstown is not a poor town, and Lanesboro has the Mall. My opinion would be they have screwed up priorities, otherwise they should be able to support their own school.

GMHeller

Since: Jan 08

United States

#6 May 9, 2008
Better yet, tax all "tax-exempt" non-profits at the same rate as for-profit businesses!
Maybe it's high time to remove the tax-exemption all these non-profits enjoy!
Norman Rockwell Museum, Kripalu Yoga Center, Berkshire Health Systems, WAMC Northeast Public Radio would all finally have to pay taxes like any other money-making enterprise.

GMHeller

Since: Jan 08

United States

#7 May 9, 2008
Maybe the real answer is to stop electing Democrats to any state office.

“What are you looking at?”

Since: Feb 08

Location hidden

#8 May 9, 2008
Man that is a bit crazy, a school is a school you can't really start splitting hairs on the exempt status of schools.
Heck what would the state do with the money anyone but buy Deville a new caddi, some new drapes, hire his wife's friend, and help make Spice II a reality in Pittsfield.
teter

Longview, WA

#10 May 9, 2008
Wow! 20 billion in extra money....Billion not million....not thousand.....BILLION. and yet some how the high school is falling apart.

lides

“No Headline available”

Since: Jan 08

Defiance, Ohio

#11 May 9, 2008
GMHeller wrote:
Better yet, tax all "tax-exempt" non-profits at the same rate as for-profit businesses!
Maybe it's high time to remove the tax-exemption all these non-profits enjoy!
Norman Rockwell Museum, Kripalu Yoga Center, Berkshire Health Systems, WAMC Northeast Public Radio would all finally have to pay taxes like any other money-making enterprise.
Another fine idea. Of course, you forgot Tanglewood. Just one question, under a system where these Not For Profits are taxed and begin to die away as they are unable to compete (being that they are structured not to turn a profit) how do you propose that Berkshire County fill the gap in tourism dollars, which come in largely due to these same organizations.

I do not know from where your hostility towards Not For Profit organizations originates, but these organizations do enrich the area and attract tourists. Those tourists bring in dollars which are spent at local businesses, which is income and taxes the county would not otherwise have seen.

GMHeller

Since: Jan 08

United States

#12 May 9, 2008
lides wrote:
<quoted text>
Another fine idea. Of course, you forgot Tanglewood. Just one question, under a system where these Not For Profits are taxed and begin to die away as they are unable to compete (being that they are structured not to turn a profit) how do you propose that Berkshire County fill the gap in tourism dollars, which come in largely due to these same organizations.
I do not know from where your hostility towards Not For Profit organizations originates, but these organizations do enrich the area and attract tourists. Those tourists bring in dollars which are spent at local businesses, which is income and taxes the county would not otherwise have seen.
Lides, why do angry Liberals like you always assume the worst?
What makes you think that Kripalu, Tanglewood and all the others would, if suddenly "for-profit", not be able to adapt like their for-profit competitors have been doing for years?
You mean to say that WAMC would go out of business if it had to sell advertising?
The fact is WAMC already sells advertising, but the station calls it "underwriting" -- and pulls in a fortune every year.
Tanglewood would also do fine, since as a non-profit the ticket prices are already through the roof (through the shed?).
And Kripalu?
At $850 per day per customer, somehow -- SOMEHOW -- that business will succeed in making it.
Berkshire Health Systems?
Gee, if that octopus-like entity has trouble turning a profit, the CEO David Phelps may just have to take a pay cut from his over $500,000 annual salary -- but I doubt that will need to happen.
Do you need more examples?

lides

“No Headline available”

Since: Jan 08

Defiance, Ohio

#13 May 9, 2008
GMHeller wrote:
<quoted text>
Lides, why do angry Liberals like you always assume the worst?
What makes you think that Kripalu, Tanglewood and all the others would, if suddenly "for-profit", not be able to adapt like their for-profit competitors have been doing for years?
You mean to say that WAMC would go out of business if it had to sell advertising?
The fact is WAMC already sells advertising, but the station calls it "underwriting" -- and pulls in a fortune every year.
Tanglewood would also do fine, since as a non-profit the ticket prices are already through the roof (through the shed?).
And Kripalu?
At $850 per day per customer, somehow -- SOMEHOW -- that business will succeed in making it.
Berkshire Health Systems?
Gee, if that octopus-like entity has trouble turning a profit, the CEO David Phelps may just have to take a pay cut from his over $500,000 annual salary -- but I doubt that will need to happen.
Do you need more examples?
All that and no answer.
"Just one question, under a system where these Not For Profits are taxed and begin to die away as they are unable to compete (being that they are structured not to turn a profit) how do you propose that Berkshire County fill the gap in tourism dollars, which come in largely due to these same organizations?" -Lides Post #11

As per usual I appreciate your inability to respond without calling me an angry liberal.

GMHeller

Since: Jan 08

United States

#14 May 9, 2008
lides wrote:
<quoted text>
All that and no answer.
"Just one question, under a system where these Not For Profits are taxed and begin to die away as they are unable to compete (being that they are structured not to turn a profit) how do you propose that Berkshire County fill the gap in tourism dollars, which come in largely due to these same organizations?" -Lides Post #11
As per usual I appreciate your inability to respond without calling me an angry liberal.
"Lides", you're only proving that you've never run a business a day in your life.
Your basic presumptions are simply dead wrong.
You wrongly presume these organizations would die off if the orgs lost their tax-exemption.
Further, you wrongly presume that these organizations presently "are structured not to turn a profit".
Profit is what ends up in the bank after all expenses get paid.
Indeed, in the case of all the organizations mentioned above, they not only have made their respective marketing niches, but all make whopping "profits" -- and rather than distribute that profit to one owner or a group of shareowners, that profit is presently being liberally spread around in the form of generous executive salaries and perks, or put into pension funds, or invested, or banked for various other allowed purposes.
WAMC, for example, has a "First Amendment Fund" which is nothing more than an emergency slush fund.
Berkshire County won't have to fill in any gap because organizations that lose tax-exemption will continue to attract tourists and will still be very much around doing what they do today and what they do best.
You honestly believe that if Boston Symphony Orchestra lost its tax-exemption tomorrow that it would cease to be?
You're dreaming.
The organization might have to rein in some of its profligate spending (take a gander at management salaries and artists' pay -- e.g.: Managing Director Mark Volpe, Boston Pops Maestro Keith Lockhart and artists like James Taylor may all need to renegotiate their generous contracts), but I have no doubt that BSO at Symphony Hall in Boston and Tanglewood would remain very much in business and well in the black attracting all sorts of well-heeled tourists to Berkshire County.
SEE: PDF pgs. 7 & 31.
BSO's IRS Form 990:
http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2005/04...
Do you doubt it?

lides

“No Headline available”

Since: Jan 08

Defiance, Ohio

#15 May 10, 2008
GMHeller wrote:
<quoted text>
"Lides", you're only proving that you've never run a business a day in your life.
Your basic presumptions are simply dead wrong.
You wrongly presume these organizations would die off if the orgs lost their tax-exemption.
Further, you wrongly presume that these organizations presently "are structured not to turn a profit".
Profit is what ends up in the bank after all expenses get paid.
Indeed, in the case of all the organizations mentioned above, they not only have made their respective marketing niches, but all make whopping "profits" -- and rather than distribute that profit to one owner or a group of shareowners, that profit is presently being liberally spread around in the form of generous executive salaries and perks, or put into pension funds, or invested, or banked for various other allowed purposes.
WAMC, for example, has a "First Amendment Fund" which is nothing more than an emergency slush fund.
Berkshire County won't have to fill in any gap because organizations that lose tax-exemption will continue to attract tourists and will still be very much around doing what they do today and what they do best.
You honestly believe that if Boston Symphony Orchestra lost its tax-exemption tomorrow that it would cease to be?
You're dreaming.
The organization might have to rein in some of its profligate spending (take a gander at management salaries and artists' pay -- e.g.: Managing Director Mark Volpe, Boston Pops Maestro Keith Lockhart and artists like James Taylor may all need to renegotiate their generous contracts), but I have no doubt that BSO at Symphony Hall in Boston and Tanglewood would remain very much in business and well in the black attracting all sorts of well-heeled tourists to Berkshire County.
SEE: PDF pgs. 7 & 31.
BSO's IRS Form 990:
http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2005/04...
Do you doubt it?
GM, you are running on the assertion that the salaries and "perks" would be enough to cover the additional operating expenses and tax, I simply do not believe that is true.

As concern Tanglewood, if the BSO were no longer tax exempt it would work in a similar fashion to any for profit show, which means they would likely go to whatever venue would give them the best deal, as opposed to say a guaranteed home like Tanglewood.

Regardless, you pose one hypothetical, wherein these organizations thrive under their new taxes and continue to operate. I have asked you, twice now, about the alternative. What would you propose, should you take the Not for Profit status and these organizations and they find themselves unable to complete and begin to close or move to areas that will give better financial or tax incentives?
Ramdan

United States

#16 May 10, 2008
Ray Miro wrote:
Unfortunately we seem to be caught between a rock and a hard place. I just wish that Williams would do a little (a lot) more for the Mt. Greylock Reg. HS facility. It would be quite a nice gesture on their part to help a floundering facility. If the donors would take their money elsewhere then it would be sad because the surrounding communities more than support the College in terms of workers and other volunteers. I am not casting stones at Williams ; I just wish they would kick in a large chunk to help rebuild a crumbling facility. The $20 million would be chump change for them and a great boost for Mt. Greylock.
Why does it have to be all about giving to schools?
What about Hospice?
What about healthcare?
What about Veterans housing?
What about Childhood development?
WHY IS IT ALL ABOUT SCHOOLS WITH YOU ???

GMHeller

Since: Jan 08

United States

#17 May 10, 2008
lides wrote:
<quoted text>
GM, you are running on the assertion that the salaries and "perks" would be enough to cover the additional operating expenses and tax, I simply do not believe that is true.
As concern Tanglewood, if the BSO were no longer tax exempt it would work in a similar fashion to any for profit show, which means they would likely go to whatever venue would give them the best deal, as opposed to say a guaranteed home like Tanglewood.
Regardless, you pose one hypothetical, wherein these organizations thrive under their new taxes and continue to operate. I have asked you, twice now, about the alternative. What would you propose, should you take the Not for Profit status and these organizations and they find themselves unable to complete and begin to close or move to areas that will give better financial or tax incentives?
Lides, it's plain you do NOT know what you are talking about.
I stated above quite clearly that "profit is presently being liberally spread around in the form of generous executive salaries and perks, or put into pension funds, or invested, or banked for various other allowed purposes."
You do NOT deny that you've never run a business, so just because you "simply do not believe that is true" doesn't mean it isn't.
An example of your plainly not knowing what you are talking about is your statement: "they would likely go to whatever venue would give them the best deal, as opposed to say a guaranteed home like Tanglewood."
BSO already owns Tanglewood and Symphony Hall (both for decades), and already has a strong market niche -- almost a monopoly -- in those locales, so the orchestra would be hard-pressed to find a better deal than that anywhere.
In reply to your question:
"What would you propose, should you take the Not for Profit status and these organizations and they find themselves unable to complete and begin to close or move to areas that will give better financial or tax incentives?"
What if?(What if the price of gas goes to $10 per gallon and people don't feel like driving north from Manhattan? You can play "what if" games all you like and YOU, the angry Liberal Lides, would find the negative side to any calculus.)
What I would propose in the unlikely event BSO were ever to find it hard to stay in the black (and I underscore the word UNLIKELY) is that the enterprise cut profligate spending so that it IS able to compete.
(I bet if I, Allen, Eric and a few others from these threads were allowed to examine BSO's books, we could find all manner of ways to rein in the org's spending.)
Sans tax-exemption, BSO would be in the position of having to do what every other for-profit enterprise in the US does: adapt, compete, and adapt some more as market conditions change.
I hope this suffices as an answer to your questions, but you seriously need to take a course in 'Business 101' because your questions reflect a serious lack of understanding as to how business in general operates.

lides

“No Headline available”

Since: Jan 08

Defiance, Ohio

#18 May 10, 2008
GMHeller wrote:
<quoted text>
Lides, it's plain you do NOT know what you are talking about.
I stated above quite clearly that "profit is presently being liberally spread around in the form of generous executive salaries and perks, or put into pension funds, or invested, or banked for various other allowed purposes."
GM,

You continue to assert that these organization would be able to operate in a for profit capacity. As per usual you give no actual evidence concerning their operation that prove they would. Really it is all a moot point because your hypothetical about revoking their tax exempt status is fairly outlandish.

As regards my question, you still have not answered it. "What would you propose, should you take the Not for Profit status and these organizations and they find themselves unable to complete and begin to close or move to areas that will give better financial or tax incentives?"

A single address of Tanglewood in a still operating condition hardly applies. Do you think for a moment, if the BSO were paying taxes at Tanglewood and found a more favorable offer that they would not move?

Feel free to continue to provide angry and name calling replys.
Sick of all the hypocrisy

Easthampton, MA

#19 May 10, 2008
GMHeller wrote:
<quoted text>
I hope this suffices as an answer to your questions, but you seriously need to take a course in 'Business 101' because your questions reflect a serious lack of understanding as to how business in general operates.
Would this be the same "Business 101" course that taught you how to get charged with 27 counts of price gouging back when you owned the Beacon Hill Gulf Station in 1980? How long did it take you to pay off that $150,000 civil penalty ?

“What are you looking at?”

Since: Feb 08

Location hidden

#20 May 10, 2008
OUCH!

GMHeller

Since: Jan 08

United States

#21 May 10, 2008
Sick of all the hypocrisy wrote:
<quoted text>
Would this be the same "Business 101" course that taught you how to get charged with 27 counts of price gouging back when you owned the Beacon Hill Gulf Station in 1980? How long did it take you to pay off that $150,000 civil penalty ?
"Sick of all the hypocrisy",'Business 101' is for beginners like the angry liberal Lides, who never ran a business a day in his life, and when confronted as a kid with running his frontyard lemonade stand, threw up his hands in defeat and despair (as any good liberal would).
It's the advanced business courses (Ph.D. level) that address how to deal with federal and state agencies when they write incomprehensible regulations.
That's also what courts of law are for, and in my particular case the federal appellate one which overturned the conviction.
As for any civil penalty, you should inquire about that with the US Attorney's office in Boston -- or maybe with Lides, because he seems to know everything about everything.

lides

“No Headline available”

Since: Jan 08

Defiance, Ohio

#22 May 10, 2008
GMHeller wrote:
<quoted text>
"Sick of all the hypocrisy",'Business 101' is for beginners like the angry liberal Lides, who never ran a business a day in his life, and when confronted as a kid with running his frontyard lemonade stand, threw up his hands in defeat and despair (as any good liberal would).
It's the advanced business courses (Ph.D. level) that address how to deal with federal and state agencies when they write incomprehensible regulations.
That's also what courts of law are for, and in my particular case the federal appellate one which overturned the conviction.
As for any civil penalty, you should inquire about that with the US Attorney's office in Boston -- or maybe with Lides, because he seems to know everything about everything.
Ah the all knowing GM speaks. Obfuscate ever? It is nice to see you ignore all questions, not only my own.

I never purported to know everything, I simply have asked you to substantiate the assertions you put forward. Yet consistently you seem to make ever more baseless claims with no facts to back them up.

I would pose my hypothetical again, but it is painfully apparent that you are either unwilling or unable to answer it.

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