Have you ever wanted to have a pile of money you could choose to dole out to whichever local charities tickled your fancy? Me too. How about if the pile of money wasn’t even yours? Yeah, you could just give away a pile of someone else’s money. Does that make it even more attractive? If so, remind me never to lend you a dime.
In a rare display of fiscal stewardship, The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that San Diego County Board of Supervisors members Diane Jacob and Greg Cox have proposed cutting the budget of the Neighborhood Reinvestment Program by half. In a usual year, each supervisor gets to allocate $2 million worth of grants to government agencies, nonprofits, and other public-oriented entities of their choice. If the measure passes, this amount would be lowered to $1 million. In total, the measure would save $5 million. There is even talk of making this cut permanent, or doing away with the program all together.
Now, many worthy organizations, like the San Diego Opera, the Old Globe Theatre, Boys and Girls clubs, and the YMCA, have received funding through this method of appropriation since its establishment in 1998, so the measure has naturally received criticism. Defending the community grant funding, Supervisor Bill Horn told the Union-Tribune, “So far as I’m concerned, I think the communities out here have a right to have some community reinvestment if they can prove it’s of benefit to their community.”
Wrong, Mr. Horn. Anyone reading this article can think of something they could do or organize to benefit the community. One could probably even come up with a way to demonstrate how the community would benefit with a minimum of trouble. Would that entitle every person reading this article to money for their project? No. Why? The money has to come from somewhere. More accurately, someone.
Mr. Horn also told the U-T, “If the other supervisors can’t spend the money in their districts, they can send it to the fifth (district). I have a huge unincorporated area that needs roads and libraries and everything else.” No, Mr. Horn, spending the money is not an exceptionally difficult problem for anyone when the money is not his own. Rather, in this case, it’s finding the money in the first place that presents the problem. Sadly, right now, there simply isn’t any—for the Fifth District or any other.
No one is saying it’s not a good idea to support the work effective charitable and community organizations do. San Diegans do it with their own money nearly every day. What Supervisors Cox and Jacob are saying—thankfully—is that the time has come to face reality. The money isn’t there. There’s nothing to give away. The pile of money is an empty sack. Let’s not fill it up with IOU’s, they’re saying. And they’re absolutely right.