- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 8, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Compensation packages for public employees have become one of the hottest topics of conversation in our country. Obviously, taxpayers are completely justified in wanting to know where their money is going, especially in these dark economic times. It is too bad the public was generally imprudent for so long. This story is not going away, as it appears there is a showdown brewing between the private and public sectors.

In the meantime, however, we ought to look at other areas where compensation packages are bolstered by our tax structure. In the past several years, I’ve heard of more and more nonprofit organizations being formed. As a taxpayer, I have done some research on them.

I recently found that Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, a nonprofit, is not only bolstered by our taxpayers, but that the officers at this leading cancer hospital get paid extremely high amounts of money.

As its name indicates, a nonprofit organization is established for something other than accruing financial profit. It is designed to achieve magnanimous goals and is supposed to serve a public good, to promote the general welfare of our society as a whole.

At the tax-exempt Memorial Sloan-Kettering, total 2008 revenues reached $2.1 billion. The hospital paid officers, directors, trustees and key employees $25.1 million. In comparison, the highly esteemed nonprofit Red Cross, with 50 percent more in total revenue, paid its board a much more modest $3.7 million. With $3.3 billion of income, the Red Cross paid its CEO a $550,000 salary. Compare that with Memorial Sloan-Kettering, which lavished its CEO with $4.4 million.

The hospital started out with good intentions. In 1945, Alfred P. Sloan and Charles F. Kettering, executives from General Motors, began this unselfish undertaking, and today the hospital has a staff of more than 13,000 and admits and treats more than 23,000 patients - a good service indeed.

However, as we try to rein in out-of-control greed in our society and build fairer government performance, we must scrutinize these nonprofit compensation windfalls. The board at Memorial Sloan-Kettering demonstrates that our tax dollars are not being spent judiciously.

CARL SEGVICH

Chicago


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