Politics & Policy

A Non-Socialist Appeal

If you think we’re worth it, please give.

Dear Reader (and those of you following the summary of this on AttackWatch.com),

I was going to start this with an Obama joke along the lines, “If you love me, you’ll donate to NRO.” But there are a few problems. First, I’d hate to seem like I think you people owe me anything or that I take it for granted that you all love me. Anyone who’s peered into the Ark of the Covenant face-melting maelstrom that is my e-mail inbox knows that’s not the case. Second, as Tina Turner said, “Ike! I’m calling 911!” Oh sorry, wrong quote. As Tina Turner said, “What’s love got to do, got to do with it?”

Last, and most important, Obama has no intention or expectation that his “must-pass” bill will be passed. Meanwhile, we really, really need this fundraising appeal to work.

Every time I write one of these pitches I hear from readers who think this approach — what marketing experts and economists call “this PBS crap” — is un-conservative, even vaguely socialist. The argument seems to boil down to: If we can’t make it in the market without passing the collection plate among the congregation, we must be doing something wrong.

I just don’t get this. Churches and synagogues ask for donations; does that make them socialist or liberal? We know that conservatives are more generous with their money than liberals are. Are all those philanthropic rightwingers just saps, or crypto-socialists, or crypto-socialist saps? Are they secretly giving to liberal causes? NRO makes some money from advertising. The print magazine makes money from advertising, subscriptions, and cruises. But it doesn’t cover everything. In effect, NRO works for tips. And the tips, unfortunately, have to come from you, the reader.

NRO straddles two worlds. We are a for-profit organization that rarely makes any profit to speak of, and whatever profit we do make goes back into the mission. I think at this point you can guess what the mission is: to make the case for conservative policies and ideas as best we can. Part of that business model requires asking the people who get value — however defined — from this site to pitch in as best they can.

And when I say “ask,” I mean ask. When President Obama and the New York Times say “ask” they mean “command.” President Obama constantly says his proposals would simply “ask” for more money from the “rich.” But that’s not what they mean, at all. If passed, the government would “ask” taxpayers for money the same way Don Corleone “asked” Jack Woltz to put Johnny Fontane in that movie.

No, I’m not saying that the government is a criminal enterprise. But I am saying that it is criminally dishonest to say that tax hikes simply amount to “asking” people for more money. It’s not really a request if saying no involves being sent to prison.

Well, this is a request you can refuse. If you can’t swing sending us a few bucks, don’t. If you don’t think we’re worth it, don’t.

But if you can afford it. And if you do think we’re worth it. If you think the message is right and the arguments are right and the cause is right. Then please help out as best you can. We need the money to keep doing what we do. That’s not socialism; it’s math, as the president might say.

— Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. You can write to him by e-mail at JonahsColumn@aol.com, or via Twitter @JonahNRO. © 2011 Tribune Media Services, Inc.


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