A new report by the IRS has documented that most not for profit hospitals don’t take care of poor people. The author of the report could have asked his mother and she’d have told him that hospitals only take care of non-payers at the point of a gun and she’d have done so at no cost to the government. An IRS report on whether a tax on love will increase federal revenues is due Valentine’s Day; the year has yet to be specified.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “Sen. Charles Grassley is considering introducing legislation that would hold nonprofit hospitals more accountable for their tax breaks, aides to the Iowa senator, who is the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, have said. The legislation would require them to spend a minimum amount on free care for the poor and set curbs on executive compensation and conflicts of interest, the aides have said.”  Some top level executives at not for profit hospitals are making (I’d never say earning) more than $1 million a year. I don’t know how many have corporate jets.

Sen. Grassley, the deep thinking republican from Iowa, has not thought deeply enough. This problem is worse than he realizes. Harvard is a not for profit corporation that has a 12 gazillion dollar endowment that used to generate tax free earnings and likely will again double sometime soon. It pays some of its faculty $500,000 a year and they have tenure allowing them to all hold the same opinions. Harvard’s president makes at least a million. Both these figures seem way too high to me. Grassley should haul some of these freeloaders before the finance committee and tell them about the real world.

After he gets finished with Harvard he can look closer to home. The University of Iowa probably pays its football coach $2 million or more a year. This is a real triple dip. The university is owned by the state, contributions to its athletic department are tax deductible, and it gets federal grants. I’m sure Grassley will be shocked and dismayed when he discovers these outrageous inequities. Even the team’s quarterback makes less than $2 million and he has to take hits by 300 pound linemen while the coach just needs a scowl and a clipboard. See the list below. *

Grassley should also look at churches. They’re all tax exempt. They don’t even pay property taxes. This is grossly unfair to atheists. To belong to one of these tax exempt churches you have to be a member of its denomination. They refuse to admit people to membership because of their religion. Not only is this unfair it’s probably illegal. Some pastors are clearly paid too much. They get six figure salaries and plush benefits. The government should set limits on their compensation as a condition of their retaining their tax exemption. Furthermore, if churches want to keep their tax exemptions they should prove they are regularly praying for the souls of atheists. A certified prayer audit should be mandated. You don’t wanna pay you gotta pray.

Professional baseball enjoys an exemption from anti-trust laws. $27 million a year for a baseball player who uses performance enhancing drugs – I’ve already written about Viagra – outrageous. We need more of Grassley here too. The government should direct that no athlete who plays in a stadium that was given a tax break when it was built should get more than $500,000 a year, even if his sport doesn’t get a pass from anti-trust laws. Also no corporate jets for executives or players who’ve gotten any sort of help from the government.

Talking about jets, Nancy Pelosi should have to fly on commercial flights just like the rest of us poor jerks. Joe Bidden should stay on Amtrak; he likes it and they need the business. Doing so would also spare the US embarrassment abroad. I’d let the president keep Air Force One as it would be mortifying if he got stuck on American Eagle in Lubbock when he was supposed to be in London.

When you come right done to it, everybody should work for minimum wage. The government should make up the rest with more benefits. What’s attractive about this plan is that no one will be making enough to pay income tax so the benefits will go further. Income tax receipts are now such a small fraction of our national expenditure that we won’t miss them.

As for Congress, their zeal for public service is obviously so great that they won’t mind working for nothing. Finally, if you need someone to blame about anything that’s going wrong don’t look in the mirror – blame George Bush. Bashing him should work for at least two more election cycles and it makes everyone feel so much better.

The following list has just been released – Feb 23, 2009

Top college salaries

Highest earners at private colleges (in millions, not including college presidents –  many president make more than $1 million):

1 Pete Carroll, head football coach, USC $4.4
2 David Silvers, clinical professor, dermatology, Columbia $4.3
3 Michael Johns, executive VP, health affairs, Emory $3.7
4 Arthur Rubenstein, executive VP and dean, School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania $3.3
5 Zev Rosenwaks, professor, Center for Reproductive Medicine and Infertility, Cornell $3.1
6 David Swensen, chief investment officer, Yale $3.0
7 Harry Jacobson, vice chancellor of health affairs, Vanderbilt $2.6
8 Jeffrey Moses, professor of medicine, Columbia $2.5
9 Norman B. Urmy, former executive vice president for clinical affairs, Vanderbilt $2.4
10 James Grifo, professor, obstetrics and gynecology, NYU $2.4