Letter to the editor | Turning a profit

April 8, 2014 

What do the following organizations have in common?

USO, national Republican and Democratic congressional committees, CARE, American Heart Association, Feed the Children, Centre County United Way, Schlow Centre Region Library and Pennsylvania Centre Orchestra.

They are “nonprofit organizations” and, among other things, pay no federal income tax, get discounted rates on postage and, through the U.S. mail, ask me for money.

Organizations at the top of the list often used a 5-cent green and gold “art deco bird” stamp. To respond, I pay almost 10 times more for postage to send them money than they do to ask me for it.

To better get attention, the USO and the National Republican Congressional Committee and others sometimes use several colored (real) stamps worth 5 cents, not a nondescript black-and-white meter-generated substitute for a stamp with no cash value indicated.

Slowly, I began to realize that, through the U.S. Postal Service, the government was subsidizing elections with discounted postage used by “nonprofit” (political) organizations.

As Ben Franklin might say, 44 cents saved is 44 cents earned. I say discounted postage of 44 cents per letter from political organizations is a 44-cent savings/earning to them.

By USPS and Internal Revenue standards, political organizations at federal, state and other levels can and do qualify as nonprofits. I think seven of the nine organizations listed above are reasonable nonprofits but not those organized for the purpose of electing candidates.

Conclusion: we do have federally subsidized elections.

Joe French, State College

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