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The Third Sector in action

By Henry Lamb
web posted August 18, 2003

"Scary," was the consensus response to last week's article, "The Third Sector." A classic example of how the Third Sector works is now unfolding around the President's "Faith Based Initiative."

The initiative, which will allow federal funds to be used by faith-based organizations, has been hijacked by the Third Sector, to further eliminate privately owned land. The Senate version of the proposed legislation (S-476), contains a provision that grants to the seller of private land a 25% discount in capital gains tax, providing that the land is sold to the government, or to a Third Sector organization such as The Nature Conservancy. The seller gets no discount should the land be sold to a church, or to a church school, or to anyone else. The discount also applies to conservation easements and water rights.

The House version (HR-7), sponsored by Rep. Roy Blunt, deliberately excludes this provision, and the Third Sector is pulling out all the stops to get the provision included in the House version as well.

The Land Trust Alliance, all of whose members stand to benefit from the discount provision, have scheduled a major rally in October to prepare to exert maximum political pressure on Congress. Look at who is sponsoring the event with donations in excess of $25,000: The Nature Conservancy; Trust for Public Land; U.S. Department of Defense.

These folks gave more than $10,000: EPA - Office of Oceans, Wetlands and Watersheds; Dept of Commerce; NOAA Coastal Services Center; USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Division of Realty.

These folks gave less than $10,000: USDA Forest Service; American Land Conservancy; National Park Service; Environmental Defense; and the Humane Society of the United States.

The Third Sector is being funded, to a large extent, by your tax dollars. The Nature Conservancy in particular, has mastered the art of extracting tax dollars en route to becoming a $3 billion industry. (More on The Nature Conservancy here).

It is, indeed, frightening that these organizations have so effectively taken over the policy-making process; it is unconscionable for the federal government to use tax dollars to support them. Not only should this Third Sector favoritism be stripped from the Senate Bill, all federal grants to these parasitic organizations should come to a screeching halt.

The faith based initiative President Bush described, envisioned church-related programs that provide food, clothing, and shelter to the needy. There was no discussion about The Nature Conservancy and other Third Sector organizations, or the government, buying up private property.

The federal government already owns about one-third of the total land area, much of which is destroyed by fire each year, because these same Third Sector organizations have insisted on management policies that prevent human use of these so-called "public" resources.

These are the same organizations whose executives and staff members flocked to the Clinton/Gore administration, to dominate the policy-making and grant-giving positions in federal agencies. These are the same organizations that now scream like stuck pigs every time the Bush administration attempts to undo the radical policies imposed by the Third Sector.

Bush's healthy forest initiative is described as "gutting national forests to enrich greedy loggers." Bush's initiative to use limited public land for energy exploration is described as "destroying the environment to enrich the greedy oil industry." Bush's effort to honor pre-existing rights of way on public land (as required by law) is described as "opening wilderness to concrete highways to enrich greedy developers."

The Third Sector has become the dominant influence in public policy development, and it has learned how to fund its operations from the public trough. Congress controls the faucet from which the funds flow. Congress will not shut off the faucet unless forced to do so by irate voters.

Shutting off the flow of federal funds to the Third Sector will not completely stop their movement, but it will put a serious kink in their come-a-long. While Congressmen are visiting the districts during the August recess is an excellent time to tell them to stop buying private lands, and to stop favoring, and funding these Third Sector organizations.

Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of the Environmental Conservation Organization, and chairman of Sovereignty International.

Other related stories: (open in a new window)

  • The Third Sector by Henry Lamb (August 11, 2003)
    What's the "Third Sector"? Henry Lamb says it's special interest groups who have injected themselves into the policy making process

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