Your recent editorial (Oct. 19) taking Gov. Paul LePage to task for excluding Maine’s nonprofits from upcoming workshops on economic growth missed a crucial point, and ended with the common fallacy that “a job is a job, however, regardless of who creates it.”

As much as Maine’s nonprofit sector contributes to the well-being of our state, and hard as it may be for some to credit LePage with any sense, there is method to his apparent madness. Nonprofit organizations and for-profit businesses occupy different economic niches.

The income statement of most non-profits looks something like this: revenues from operations minus cost of operations equals loss, so they need to hold auctions, bake sales, and annual fund drives to make ends meet. I know this well. I work for a nonprofit, and we would not be able to do what we do without these extra streams of revenue.

The bottom line for private business, though, is profit: the difference between what people voluntarily pay for a good or service and the cost of the resources to provide it. The wealth creation driven by private enterprise ultimately provides the extra buoyancy that keeps most nonprofits afloat, in addition to providing a healthy tax base for government.

My job, and the jobs of my fellow workers in nonprofits and in government, are supported by the wealth created by private enterprise. It is relatively easy for governments to create jobs. Everyone in the now-defunct Soviet Union had a job, but their jobs did not create prosperity. Only private enterprise has proven able to do that.


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