A White House official in the George W. Bush administration, Noam Neusner, has a provocative piece in the Baltimore Jewish Times: "charities have done a very good job of turning themselves into a form of conspicuous consumption. Think about what charitable giving gives the donor: Higher social status, greater or redeemed reputation, a sense of well-being, attention and adoration from creative and interesting people, and a chance to support the work of people one likes."
He says these charities don't have the moral high ground when they call for higher taxes: "Such invocations would be taken more seriously if charities themselves paid taxes on their property and endowment gains, for example. They would be more believable if charities did not house themselves in fancy office buildings and pay their executives generous salaries. Their arguments would carry some credibility if charities accepted gifts without returning anything of value — such as named buildings — to the donor. None of this is the case, however."