Quid pro quo

So Iíve left the bowels of Big 4 accounting and moved over to the corporate/in-house finance side of things. With my new job, the budgets for our lobbying and corporate giving activities fall under my area of responsibility. One of our goals is to sell software to NATO and NATO expansion countries. Speaking with our guy in charge of lobbying, it seems the European way has evolved into quid pro quo for giving: if you are an American company wanting to bid for European government contracts, you better have a long and distinguished list of European charities to which you have donated substantial sums of money. Monterey Bay Aquarium wonít quite cut it.

Governments have every right to promote whatís good for their countries. This would be similar to the U.S. government wanting to buy from U.S. companies. But I think when the U.S. government awards contracts, in terms of whatís good for the U.S., we tend to care more about how many jobs it creates. We tend to want to steer money towards domestic expansion, or at least expansion of the tax base. This European quid pro quo isnít quite extortion in giving a bribe to a magistrate to ease the way. But for some reason it just has a dirty feel about it. For me, nonprofits, government, and academia run in the same circle. You have the same mindset and people who work there, ensconced comfortably in a bureaucracy of inefficiency. Canít work? Go teach. Canít teach? Go govern. Canít govern? Go ask for money. Itís one big mass of socialist utopia where there is little accountability and a lack of quantifiable measures of success. When you throw Eurocrats into the mix, I can see where plenty can go wrong. To me, European charities tend to mean U.N. related work, which translates to corruption and waste.

As is everywhere, political pork is about buying political capital. The American constituent tends to care about jobs. So it makes sense to appeal to what we want. Europe being predominantly liberal, it makes sense to appeal to what the liberal voter base wants. Steering money towards the unproductive part of the economy just seems a dumb way to go about things.

Iím no expert on European nonprofits, so categorize this under Friday night random beer talk.

As a side note our company also gives much more to the Republican side of the fence, which is nice to see.