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Forum Post: "We Need to Know Who Funds These Thinktank Lobbyists", by George Monbiot [The Guardian].

Posted 9 years ago on Feb. 21, 2012, 8:12 p.m. EST by shadz66 (19985)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

The battle for democracy is becoming a fight against backroom billionaires seeking to shape politics to suit their own interests.

by George Monbiot.

February 21, 2012 "The Guardian" :

( http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/feb/20/who-funds-thinktank-lobbyists )

Shocking, fascinating, entirely unsurprising: the leaked documents, if authentic, confirm what we suspected but could not prove. The Heartland Institute, which has helped lead the war against climate science in the United States, is funded among others by tobacco firms, fossil fuel companies and one of the billionaire Koch brothers. [ Jeffrey Blackler / Alamy/Alamy]

It appears to have followed the script written by a consultant to the Republican party, Frank Luntz, in 2002. "Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate."

Luntz's technique was pioneered by the tobacco companies and the creationists: teach the controversy. In other words, insist that the question of whether cigarettes cause lung cancer, natural selection drives evolution, or burning fossil fuels causes climate change, is still wide open, and that both sides of the "controversy" should be taught in schools and thrashed out in the media.

The leaked documents appear to show that, courtesy of its multimillionaire donors, the institute has commissioned a global warming curriculum for schools which teaches that "whether humans are changing the climate is a major scientific controversy" and "whether CO2 is a pollutant is controversial".

The institute has claimed it is "a genuinely independent source of research and commentary" and that "we do not take positions in order to appease or avoid losing support from individual donors". But the documents, if authentic, reveal that its attacks on climate science have been largely funded by a single anonymous donor and that "we are extinguishing primarily global warming projects in pace with declines in his giving".

The climate change deniers it funds have made similar claims to independence. For example, last year Fred Singer told a French website: "Of course I am not funded by the fossil fuel lobbies. It's a completely absurd invention." The documents suggest that the institute, funded among others by the coal company Murray Energy, the the oil company Marathon and the former Exxon lobbyist Randy Randol has been paying him $5,000 a month.

Robert Carter has claimed he "receives no research funding from special interest organisations". But the documents suggest that Heartland pays him $1,667 a month. Among the speakers at its conferences were two writers for the Telegraph (Christopher Booker and James Delingpole). The Telegraph group should now reveal whether and how much they were paid by the Heartland Institute.

It seems to be as clear an illustration as we have yet seen of the gulf between what such groups call themselves and what they really are. Invariably, organisations arguing for regulations to be removed, top taxes to be reduced and other such billionaire-friendly policies, call themselves free-market or conservative thinktanks. But according to David Frum, formerly a fellow at one such group – the American Enterprise Institute – they "increasingly function as public relations agencies". The message they send to their employees, he says, is "we don't pay you to think, we pay you to repeat".

The profits of polluting or reckless companies and banks and the vast personal fortunes of their beneficiaries are largely dependent on the regulations set by governments. This is why the "thinktanks" campaign for small government. If regulations robustly defend the public interest, the profits decline. If they are weak, the profits rise. Billionaires and big business buy influence to insulate themselves from democratic control. It seems to me that the so-called thinktanks are an important component of this public relations work.

Their funding, in most cases, is opaque. When I challenged some of the most prominent of such groups in the UK, only one would reveal its donors' identity. The others refused. Disgracefully, their lack of accountability does not prevent some of them from registering as charities and claiming tax exemption.

The Charity Commission in England and Wales – negligent, asleep at the wheel – is becoming a threat to democracy. These organisations are not trying to restore historic buildings or rescue distressed donkeys. They are seeking to effect political change in highly contentious areas. The minimum requirement for all such groups – whether they are on the left or on the right – is that they should disclose their major sources of income so that we know on whose behalf they speak. The commission is providing cover for multimillionaires and corporations who are funding undisclosed campaigns to enhance their own wealth under the guise of charity, and obliging the rest of us to pay for it through tax exemptions. If that's charity, a police siren is music.

The use of so-called thinktanks on both sides of the Atlantic seems to me to mirror the use of super-political action committees (superPACs) in the US. Since the supreme court removed the limits on how much one person could give to a political campaign, the billionaires have achieved almost total control over politics. An article last week on TomDispatch revealed that in 2011, just 196 donors provided nearly 80% of the money raised by superPACs.

The leading Republican candidates have all but abandoned the idea of mobilising popular support. Instead they use the huge funds they raise from billionaires to attack the credibility of their opponents through television ads. Yet more money is channelled through 501c4 groups – tax-exempt bodies supposedly promoting social welfare – which (unlike the superPACs) don't have to reveal the identity of their donors. TomDispatch notes that "serving as a secret slush fund for billionaires evidently now qualifies as social welfare."

The money wins. This is why Republicans swept up so many seats in the mid-term elections, and why the surviving Democrats were scarcely distinguishable from their rivals. It is why Obama, for all his promise, appears incapable of governing in the public interest. What can he tell the banks: "Do what I say or I won't take your money any more"? How can he tax the billionaires when they have their hands around his throat? Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

This is plutocracy, pure and simple. The battle for democracy is now a straight fight against the billionaires and corporations reshaping politics to suit their interests. The first task of all democrats must be to demand that any group, of any complexion, seeking to effect political change should reveal its funders.

© 2012 The Guardian

"fiat lux" ....

[Article copied verbatim under "Fair Use" from : http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30612.htm ]



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[-] 4 points by Ache4Change (3340) 8 years ago

The NRA & ALEC are think-tanks and lobbyists too, right?! Great post & very relevant right now! Also see, by Bill Moyers - 'NRA - Enabler Of Death' - http://www.nationofchange.org/nra-enabler-death-1355760591 . I'm glad for the 'search' box, because I entered 'George Monbiot', hit enter and came up with this gem amongst others. Never Give Up Using Light & Logic! Occupy Love! Solidarity.

[-] 2 points by shadz66 (19985) 8 years ago

"How the GOP Promoted Gun Madness", by Robert Parry :

"When looking at the faces of the six-year-olds butchered in their Connecticut classroom, you should also see the faces of the politicians who pandered to the NRA and its obsessive opposition to commonsense gun control, the likes of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush."

The NRA, ALEC & some of the others listed and alluded to on this thread, are an insidious infection in democracy in The U$A. That "The NRA (IS an) Enabler of Death" is really so obvious as to be beyond rational debate and thanx for resurrecting this old but useful post.

pax, amor et lux ...

[-] 2 points by Ache4Change (3340) 8 years ago

Guns for teachers?! - http://www.nationofchange.org/oklahoma-will-consider-law-allowing-teachers-bring-guns-school-1355847480 & thanks for that important link. Never Give Up Exposing The Vested Interests! Occupy Transparency! Solidarity.

[-] 3 points by shadz66 (19985) 8 years ago

Thanx for that rather disturbing link & on the subject matter of the forum-post and for insights into a very famous Thinktank which all too often 'thinks tanks', please see :

respice, adspice, prospice ...

[-] 0 points by RJHobbs (-58) 8 years ago

Some schools in Texas have already armed their teachers.

[-] 1 points by Ache4Change (3340) 8 years ago

Armed teachers? Is that good? If you could attach a link, that would be useful and please also try to see the following links - http://www.nationofchange.org/after-sandy-hook-shootings-nra-campaign-clout-still-formidable-1355928985 - and - http://www.nationofchange.org/nra-enabler-death-1355760591 - and look to see who is lobbying for more armed teachers etc. Never Give Up Trying To Connect The Dots! Occupy Rhyme and Reason!

[-] -1 points by RJHobbs (-58) 8 years ago

As irresponsible as many of our teachers are, I don't know. It would require a new breed of teacher, a level of respect and responsibility, that this country has not seen since the 40s.

[-] 1 points by Ache4Change (3340) 8 years ago

The 40s? When we had segregation you mean?! Stop trying to move forward whilst looking backwards! Consider this - http://www.nationofchange.org/nra-blames-everything-except-guns-outdated-video-games-hurricanes-and-corporate-media-led-newtown-13 and try to get a grip! Never Give Up Tying To Move Forwards Past Backwardness! Occupy The Future!


[-] 4 points by GirlFriday (17435) 9 years ago

The Telegraph group should now reveal whether and how much they were paid by the Heartland Institute.


[-] 4 points by shadz66 (19985) 9 years ago

Thanx 'GF' ;-) I didn't know much about this lot : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Heartland_Institute or their links to the UK 'Torygraph' Grp. ! pax et lux ...

[-] 3 points by shadz66 (19985) 9 years ago

Also, 'GF', remember - when you think "Thinktanks" think 'tanks on the White House lawn' - usurping, obviating, eroding & insidiously absorbing what's left of 'US Democracy' :

per ardua ad astra ...

[-] 3 points by GirlFriday (17435) 9 years ago

Thanks for the music, shadz.

[-] 3 points by shadz66 (19985) 9 years ago

You're welcome 'GF' and also by Leonard Cohen, a meditation upon past and present ills, with a view to a better, brighter future - eventually :

respice, adspice, prospice ...

[-] 3 points by Middleaged (5140) 9 years ago

Let's add a couple for study:

1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_for_the_New_American_Century one of the Think Tanks that lead us to War in IRAQ.

2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Enterprise_Institute One of the Think Tanks that provided George W Bush with policies, International Trade, Globalization, and a link to Robert Bork on Antitrust which we need protection on today http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Antitrust_Paradox.

3) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hudson_Institute hm...think they were also behind Iraq war. I think the internet info was scrubbed??

4) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_on_Foreign_Relations#Controversy Didn't they get us into Vietnam?

5) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Center_for_Strategic_and_International_Studies These guys probably help get us into all wars.

6) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoover_Institution Don't these guys want to get rid of Social Security and deregulate Banks.

7) Some of the Conservative Think Tanks probably got the US and the world into Neoliberalism the kind of economics that wants limited government, no regulations, limited interference with economics, globalism, free markets for any kind of commodity, financialization, i.e. the Hoover Institution, Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute.

[-] 3 points by shadz66 (19985) 9 years ago

Thanx. Further, please also see :

Enough to make the mind boggle, I'd say !!

verum ex absurdo ...

[-] 2 points by bensdad (8977) 9 years ago

If you think you know America’s biggest threat,
..Koch ?
….Norquist ?
……Iran ?
………Boehner ?
………...McConnell ?
……………Murdoch ?

you are wrong –
……spend ten minutes with each of these

American Legislative Exchange Council


.............................................BE AFRAID – VERY AFRAID

And FYI – They are doing everything they can do to create
a new constitutional convention [Article V Convention]
that can propose virtually anything This cabal of greed-masters has purchased our government
Imagine how easy it would be for them to buy constitutional convention deligates! Creating new constitutional amendments:

corporate tax rate set to 0
inheritance tax set to 0
capital gains tax set to 0

Do you want an Article V Constutional Convention?