Bloomberg News has a pretty interesting look at how much control donors to some colleges and universities are getting in exchange for their gifts. The lead anecdote is John Allison, who has gotten Ayn Rand's work taught in a lot of colleges. Such arrangements are almost certainly better than the alternative, which is that the colleges take donor money and use it to support things that the donor opposes. But the deals also raise questions of the sort that former Bush administration official Noam Neusner wrote about the other day: if charities are just another form of conspicuous consumption for which the donor is receiving something of value in return, why do they get a tax break? Daniel Henninger's suggestion last week — "Eliminate the charitable deduction, drop—or flatten—the top tax rate and total giving will rise, not fall" — was an intriguing one.
Donors and Colleges