Stop and think about the economics of non-profits.

Articles like this from the New York Times are a fascinating view into a worldview where the frame is just shifted (off, I’d say) by a little bit.  (Search the link in Google to read the article if it’s blocked when you click.)

In a Northern California school district, the superintendent is taking shifts as a lunchroom monitor. In Louisville, Ky., nonprofit groups are losing social workers to better-paying jobs at Walmart and McDonald’s. And in Rhode Island, child welfare organizations are turning away families from early-intervention programs because they are short of personnel.

The nationwide labor shortage in recent months has led to delayed shipments, long waits at restaurants and other frustrations for customers and employers alike. But many for-profit businesses have been able to overcome their staffing difficulties, at least in part, by offering higher wages to attract workers.

This is the problem with “non-profits.”  They’ve been set up as if they’re some unique creature with a special blessing upon them.  The reality is that you cannot suspend price mechanisms.  If elected officials cannot find support for increases, then it’s a signal that the community only values the service at the rate that employees are willing to accept, when considering pay in combination with rewarding work.

When things are processed through the political system, everybody seems to conclude that the laws of reality (including economics) are suspended.  It’s very strange… but it does facilitate useful rhetoric for self-serving activists.

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7 months ago

[…] or dangerous, then higher compensation is needed. This point is relevant when journalists fret that non-profits can’t keep up with market pay, but thinking about police officers suggests a […]

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