Waitin' for the gravy train. Photo courtesy Vicki's Nature

Oh, here we go. Looks like some people disapprove of uppity non-profit types honing in on the private sector CEOs’ domain of greed and disproportionate compensation:

Compensation has long been a point of controversy among donors to nonprofits. By far the biggest category of complaints posted on the Web site of Charity Navigator, which offers research and analysis of nonprofit groups, involves complaints about pay.

“Many donors feel that paying the leader of a charity a six-figure salary is outrageous,” said Ken Berger, the group’s president.

For his part, Mr. Berger disagrees with the argument, popular among many nonprofits, that to attract top talent to manage complex organizations, they must compete with for-profit businesses.

“I’m not advocating poverty wages,” he said. “But arguing that those working for the benefit of the neediest people in our society should make millions and multimillions like corporate leaders defies common sense.”

LOL WUT?! Apparently, a private sector CEO’s salary 500 times that of the average employee is just fine with Mr. Berger, so long as that CEO offshores U.S. jobs, dodges taxes by incorporating in the Cayman Islands, and does everything in his power to avoid helping people in need, I guess.

It’s at this point in the story that irony’s corpse is exhumed and violated by Senator Coburn:

On Capitol Hill, four senators this spring refused to approve a $425 million package of federal grants for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America after staff members looked at the organization’s tax forms as part of a routine vetting process and were surprised to learn that the organization paid its chief executive almost $1 million in 2008 — $510,774 in salary and bonus and $477,817 in retirement and other benefits.

A nearly $1 million salary and benefit package for a nonprofit executive is not only questionable on its face but also raises questions about how the organization manages its finances in other areas,” said Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma.

As opposed to for-profit corporations with their myriad, Republican-driven tax loopholes and gratuitously low tax rates? Or how about those banks you D.C. boys just bailed out with taxpayer dollars? Lloyd Blankfein and Jamie Dimon received some sizeable annual salaries despite crashing the American economy. Makes one question how the organizations “manage their finances in other areas,” n’est-ce pas?

If Senator Coburn is going to stagger down that path, arms flapping wildly at the injustice of these non-profit salaries, then by his reckoning, the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre should forego his $1,139,568 annual salary (as of 2008), and Robert Mazzuca of the Boy Scouts of America needs to pay back that $1,577,600 he received in 2009. (Note: Yaron Brook, President and Executive Director of the Ayn Rand Institute, only pulls down $350K a year. Methinks someone’s not living up to his objectivist potential.)

Besides, why dismiss the argument that non-profits can’t retain their best talent if they can’t pay them competitively? What happens to the “trickle down” argument that cutting CEO salaries will effectively slam the brakes on the economic recovery? Why don’t any of these tired, hackneyed arguments in support of mind-boggling private sector CEO salaries apply to non-profits? The logic, it burns.

For the record, I’m not condoning these exorbitant salaries on either side of the bottom line. Being a hippie socialist type, I think that CEOs should be paid in direct proportion to their lowest paid employees, and those employees should be guaranteed a living wage. All I’m asking for is a little consistency in the approach, please. You can hold the foie gras.