There are two precepts that I tend to place above all others when it comes to businesses. The first precept is that it is impossible to fix stupid. Nothing can be done to remedy the management of an enterprise, if the management is made up of stupid people. It will not be possible to make them smart. The management must be changed. The second precept is that if a company is managed by dishonest people, the investors will lose more money than if the management was just merely stupid. Another way to say this is that you can rarely lose more money through a stupid decision than someone can steal from you.
The new endowment fund that was launched by our JCA might represent the rare opportunity to lose twelve million dollars through a combination of management dishonesty and stupidity. It is really a Ponzi-like scheme, taking fresh money to cover the future losses while calling it an “endowment”, which generally connotes sustainability and perpetuity. Therefore, I am going to call this new scheme a “Ponzdowment”. I might be so isolated as to never have heard of an endowment campaign that has the veiled purpose of covering the operating operating expenses of a failing enterprise, but I doubt it. Every endowment campaign I have ever reviewed, donated to, or had the pleasure of serving on has had the stated purpose of providing perpetual funding to a particular organization. I have never actually heard of, or seen an endowment campaign that was designed to spend all the money raised in twelve years, leaving the institution being supported in the same terrible financial shape it was in at the inception of the campaign. Endowment funds are generally used to help an organization become sustainable. This Ponzdowment represents a case of “doubling down” that would leave even the most cynical gamblers scratching their heads.
“Fulfilling the Promise” is just a sliver of wordplay symptomatic of continued JCA mismanagement and their inability to be honest with the Jewish community of Phoenix. Instead of the JCA’s board saying to the community: “hey, we f_cked up and squandered $34,000,000.00 of donated money by creating a campus that will never be able to be operated without loss, we are sorry for having done so and we will resign, en-masse”, we are presented with the JCA’s Board directed Solipsism and detachment from reality: a ponzi scheme dressed up by calling it an endowment campaign, euphemistically entitled, “Fulfilling the Promise.”
It is very clear that the promise the JCA’s board is fulfilling is to squander whatever money they missed the first time around, like the Grinch making one more sweep and grabbing that one toy he missed and stuffing it in his bag. I think that the campaign should be entitled truthfully and named: The Ponzdowment Campaign to Cover Up Our Mistakes to Help Fund A Failing Health Club For Twelve More Years. With a tag line below it, “Because we think you’re all stupid.”
As to the oft repeated idiocy quoted by the JCA’s wise men of Chelm that: “The success of the campus is imperative to the survival of a strong, cohesive Jewish community in Metro Phoenix”, I have noticed that in the two years that have passed since I have been on that campus, I am still Jewish, I still belong to a synagogue, and my foreskin is still missing. Maybe it has to be that the building can no longer be standing for the Jewish community of Phoenix to undergo this decimation. Or maybe the campus is actually The Third Temple and if we don’t support it, that’s OK, just do not expect to be hanging with Moshiach anytime soon.
So, if you, like me, are curious about the management freak show at the JCA, spend the $18.00 and attend the annual meeting at 7:00 PM on Wednesday, Feb. 1 – it could be even more weird than Coney Island’s.