George Will last week detailed how a ever-hungrier political class is rooting out sources of private money like truffle pigs in a mushroom forest:
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., recently convened a discussion of how colleges and universities should be spending their endowments. Grassley, who says more than 135 institutions each have endowments of more than $500 million, says perhaps they should be required to spend 5 percent of their endowments each year. Welch has introduced legislation to require that percentage be spent to reduce tuition and other student expenses.
This government reach for control of private resources comes even though last year colleges and universities spent, on average, 4.6 percent of their endowments. [...]
Some Massachusetts state legislators, committing two of the seven deadly sins, are angry because tax revenues do not match their ambitions, and envious of Harvard. They suggest raising more than $1 billion annually with a 2.5 percent assessment on the nine colleges and universities in the state that have endowments of more than $1 billion.
California legislators, disguising a third sin, avarice, as concern for "diversity," want to require large California foundations to report the race, gender and sexual orientation of their trustees, staff and grant recipients. Other state legislatures will emulate this step toward government control of the flow of philanthropy.
That last California spasm in particular is a worrying trend about the direction America is poised to go during the coming Obamaverse. You might think that the Fannie/Freddie debacle would forever sear the eyeballs of those dreamers who aim to improve society by forcing private or semi-private companies to redirect their activities away from the bottom line and toward the desires of various interest groups, but then you'd be hopelessly naive. Mortgages and endowments ain't the half of it Everywhere you see government contracting you see a fantastical variety of social engineering projects. There are any number of colossal pension funds being tweaked as we speak to fit the political goals of people whose track record with managing money has been, shall we say, suboptimal. In the ongoing financial-market crisis, such politically correct investing may contribute to an awful lot of carnage.