Original Link: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/05/17/976527/-ALEC-s-Agenda-becomes-cleareras-do-connections-to-them
By Bob Sloan
More privatization in the news and no matter what is being privatized one or more of ALEC's "special friend" corporate members stand to profit from such efforts. In addition we have the Koch's now discovered influencing education provided in our public universities. My my, them folks are certainly working overtime on their agenda, now aren't they?
Last week there was a report from Florida that Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation had "endowed" $1.5 million to a public university - Florida State University. Of course this endowment had a purpose. Charles and David Koch always have a purpose when offering up their money is concerned. One of their many interests is Conservative economics and that is where their efforts are centered regarding the money given to USF. They provided that small sum to the University in exchange for being allowed to approve those applying to teach economics at the college.
So far, the article reports, Koch has declined to approve 60% of those selected by University officials for positions in the Economics Department.
"A foundation bankrolled by Libertarian businessman Charles G. Koch has pledged $1.5 million for positions in Florida State University's economics department. In return, his representatives get to screen and sign off on any hires for a new program promoting "political economy and free enterprise."
"Koch wasted little time in asserting his influence. In 2009, he denied 60 percent of the faculty’s suggestions to fill the positions in the new programs, called the Study of Political Economy and Free Enterprise (SPEFE) and Excellence in Economics Education (EEE). The hires that were made were agreed upon by Koch and the department’s faculty."
reports this article from the St. Petersburg Times.
The above article no sooner hit the newsstands and another came out exposing additional "endowments" provided to Universities and Colleges from Koch's coffers. Alternet reported: "6 Universities With Far-Right Academic Centers Funded by Koch Industries" in this article dated May 12th. They report the following universities with ties to Koch money:
1 - West Virginia University - $480,000
2 - Brown University - $419,254
3 - Troy University - $3.6 million
4 - Utah State University - $700,000
Additionally it mentions George Mason University and the Koch ties to it through the Mercatus Center. Charles Koch is a Mercatus Center Board member.
Now a less informed person might think this kind of philanthropy on behalf of the Koch brothers or their family foundations is a good thing. However, as the articles I've linked to warn us, the Koch's only fund those activities that benefit them. In the case of the endowments to the Universities they are funding activities that have to do with economics, global warming and other EPA related issues. Their purpose is obviously intended to influence educational programs referencing these important issues. They hope by such influence to assist in "teaching" today's students about economics and environmental issues from the conservative far right POV.
Some might also question: what all of this Koch funding of colleges and public Universities has in common with prison privatization and prison industries? Believe it or not - some will and some won't - the same set of characters, players and legislators are also involved in profiting from prison privatization and associated industries using inmate labor. It's bad enough that the corporations and ALEC are involved in expanding criminal laws to increase arrests and thus incarceration, but the fact that they have a willing partner in the U.S. Department of Justice is despicable. Yes, the DOJ is involved in furthering the goals, profits and agendas of ALEC, Koch Industries, Corrections Corporation of America and Geo Group - in regards to imprisonment and profiting from that imprisonment.
Here is a piece of the 7 minute NCIA/DOJ video I've finally managed to record and include in a diary for readers to watch so they can fully understand the seriousness of this profiteering. The full video including the credits linking to the NCIA/BJA/DOJ is found here.
If you noticed early in the full video, a woman describes the work as that "which American workers no longer want to do" and throughout this propaganda film, there is little mention of "training" or actual benefits to the inmate - rather the focus is on reducing costs and increasing profits for the targeted companies shown this film. This is simply more of the agenda put forth by ALEC in their Public Safety "Model Legislations" Privatization and Prison Industries Acts.
The pursuit of profits for ALEC member's CCA and Geo, from imprisonment drove ALEC to conspire on the writing and presenting SB 1070 legislation first in Arizona and now in more than 20 other states. Since the 2010 election cycle they have worked to expand prison privatization in Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio, Maine, Michigan and several other Republican held states. This is similar to the initiatives of ALEC and Koch Industries discrediting global warming and other important EPA claims. They believe if they say it often enough, people will begin to believe their rhetoric...or if not that, the arguments will become so complex and confusing to the public they'll lose interest in the discussion.
This has been their goal and modus operandi since the 1980's and took the form of the Eric Heubeck "Treatise" I have written about over the past couple of months now. Here are just a couple of excerpts from this document:
"New Traditionalists Must Concentrate on Students and Young Adults
"The new movement will inevitably be geared toward children and young adults, especially their education. We will accomplish the goal of retaking our country only when large numbers of young people are educated outside of the indoctrinating environment of many public and private schools, universities, and of course, the popular culture. At this point in their lives, many of their ideas are still in the formative stage, the more so the younger they are. Furthermore, young adults (of college age and above) should be given a large role in the organization of the New Traditionalist movement, as many older people, because of work and family life, simply do not have the time to devote to reading, discussion, and action (and all three are equally important). They also often lack the necessary energy, enthusiasm, and idealism that is prevalent in youth. However, retirees could also make a valuable contribution to the movement.
"College students must be a key audience for our movement, since they are free of excessive time commitments and they find themselves in an environment that (theoretically) encourages activism and exposure to new ideas. We should consider creating alternative fraternities where traditionalists can live, interact with each other, learn from each other, socialize with each other. New Traditionalist fraternities can help replicate lifestyles from the past--emulate "civilized" behavior from the past--by discussing traditionalist ideas, literature, and art, and then acting based on what has been learned. Members of the fraternities and collegiate study groups should build each other up in every possible way: in terms of public speaking skills, debating skills, physical fitness, intellect, manners, aesthetic sense. It is imperative that our ideas be lived and not merely discussed.
"A basic problem is that most bright, creative, dynamic, energetic young people with leadership skills become leftists, and this is why most student leaders--who eventually become the leaders of society--tend to be leftists. New Traditionalist fraternities and collegiate study groups can help reverse that tendency."
Does anyone else see the comparison between this indoctrination and what occurred in Europe in the 30's? I get a sense of "Youth Corp" when reading this. Of course from the philosophical plan, we can readily understand the goal of "investing" money in our public universities by the Koch's many foundations. We are clearly shown that it has nothing to do with philanthropy, rather it has everything to do with furthering their collective Conservative agenda through indoctrinating our youth from their earliest exposure to education through the collegiate level.
It is no longer sufficient for those espousing their personal views that are divergent from the mainstream's through private educational programs. In those instances ALEC and Koch would be preaching to the choir, so to speak. No, they have decided it's time to infect our public education with their rhetoric and agenda to recruit more of our youth to their cause.
Here is more from the "Treatise":
"There will be three main stages in the unfolding of this movement. The first stage will be devoted to the development of a highly motivated elite able to coordinate future activities. The second stage will be devoted to the development of institutions designed to make an impact on the wider elite and a relatively small minority of the masses. The third stage will involve changing the overall character of American popular culture.
"It must be emphasized that this new movement will not be "disengaged" from the wider society, only "differently engaged." We are, quite simply, replacing political activism with cultural activism as the center of our focus. And while the visibility of the new movement will be less pronounced than the existing (political) conservative movement in the short term, the seeds that we now sow will have dramatic repercussions over the long term. We have the capacity to fundamentally transform the face of American culture in the 21st century by following a different path, one built on the aggressive dissemination of our cultural values, rather than the idle hope that enough of our cultural values still remain in the body of the American people to carry us on to a few more isolated electoral victories.
"Our movement will be entirely destructive, and entirely constructive. We will not try to reform the existing institutions. We only intend to weaken them, and eventually destroy them. We will endeavor to knock our opponents off-balance and unsettle them at every opportunity. All of our constructive energies will be dedicated to the creation of our own institutions.
"We must create a countervailing force that is just as adept as the Left at intimidating people and institutions that are used as tools of left-wing activism but are not ideologically committed, such as Hollywood celebrities, multinational corporations, and university administrators. We must be feared, so that they will think twice before opening their mouths. They must understand that there is some sort of cost involved in taking a "controversial" stand--although positions cannot honestly be labeled "controversial" if conservatives are unable to mount a meaningful opposition. Perhaps once we are able to mount such an opposition, we will be able to take some of the trendiness out of leftist cultural activism, because lukewarm advocates of leftist causes will be forced to actually get their hands dirty. Support of leftist causes will no longer be the path of least resistance."
Now we can begin to understand that our current events are driven and coordinated by this cabal with ALEC at it's core. Collective bargaining, Union-Busting, Right to Work legislation, school voucher programs, expanding of privatized prisons and prison industries. This collective has sought to downplay global warming, carbon emissions and fought against election reforms, social programs, Medicare, Social Security and also importantly, abortion.
By legislating the slashing of public funding for education - nationwide - they have made it necessary for school authorities to seek funding elsewhere to make up the loss in state appropriations. When University officials go looking for funding...there stands David and Charles Koch and their huge conglomerate of think tanks, PAC's and foundations, holding out their checkbooks and flashing crooked and sinister grins. Collectively they should be seen as the Potter character in "It's A Wonderful Life ."
I think it's time the U.S. Department of Education begins to take a hard look at the funding being provided to our public colleges and universities. At their site they provide information on "improper payments" and provide a form to fill out for reporting fraud, abuse or waste involving funding and have an Office of Inspector General. I would think this is something that should be followed up with the DOE looking into the payments/endowments made to collegiate institutions by the likes of Charles and David Koch, their foundations or affiliated think tanks. The strings attached to such "endowments" allowing them to influence the hiring or retention of instructors and further requiring the reading of controversial material should be investigated and found too controlling:
"A separate grant from BB&T funds a course on ethics and economics in which Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged is required reading. The novel, which depicts society's collapse in the wake of government encroachment on free enterprise, was recently made into a movie marketed to tea party members."
As the article on this reported, BB&T has joined with Koch to help raise $6.6 million for graduate "fellowships." I truly believe that in instances where private companies, corporations or individuals are shown to be providing money to public educational institutions in exchange for the hiring of personnel that will advance a particular personal and "theoretical" belief over what is generally held by the mainstream public, there should be a thorough investigation. Any attempt to introduce a minority opinion "theory" as fact by controlling the dissemination of materials and educational training of college students, is a dangerous and troubling act.
We see similar activities - involving the Kochs and other Conservatives - regarding global warming and other topics that today present a danger to industrial companies. They are always looking for ways to lessen that danger by making it appear that the danger is somehow fabricated and thus not a danger at all. They do this to keep their profits flowing the way they like, without having to be made to install expensive equipment and use recommended technologies to lessen the impact upon our planet and our health. At the center of these pursuits are billions of $'s. These people are willing to endanger our entire world population to keep more and more money coming their way - at our expense. Creating an atmosphere in higher education facilities to nurture views in opposition to those held by the majority, helps Koch and their comrades to keep the argument alive and forestall forcing them to accept responsibility for their manufacturing and refining that is endangering us all.
THE TIES -
It isn't just CCA and Geo Group and their profiting from incarceration. No, there are millions of investors realizing some form or amount of profit from privatization and prison industries. Here is a link to an article identifying the top "shareholders" in both CCA and Geo. (Note: Vanguard is still listed in the top 10 investors in Geo Group). In addition those invested in Aramark, Keefe Commissary and the hundreds of other corporations involved in prison services, are profiting - I've named them several times in previous diaries.
When you now hear Conservatives talking the talk and walking the walk, you know it is scripted and they are parroting everything they hear from Fox News outlets. Leading Conservatives now use FOX to disseminate their initiatives and instructions from the "elite" mentioned in the treatise to the "masses" identified in the same document.
There are a couple of prestigious law firms involved in all this crap. I know you've read my diaries about Greenberg Traurig. This law firm is in the midst of all this prison privatization, economic “endowments” to universities and other manipulations. In the article about the universities linked to above, notice the involvement of BB&T bank. That is the banking firm that ATL Industry's owner in Atlanta, Ga. Used to finance his properties and equipment used in the prison industry at PRIDE’s food processing plant in Florida. When PRIDE and ATL began litigation, Greenberg Traurig was found to also represent BB&T Bank, and used their relationship with both PRIDE and BB&T jointly to take all property and assets from the ATL owner, in order to deny him funding to litigate against PRIDE. So in this one article we have further proof that Koch, BB&T, Greenberg and the other players are all affiliated – on U.S. prison privatization, prison industry operations and economic issues.
Assisting them on the issues of economics are ALEC's Board of Scholars Laffer and Moore with their twisted economic research (funded by Koch money) attempting to provide legitimacy to the Conservative agenda using such tools as the "Laffer Curve":
"The Laffer curve and supply-side economics inspired Reaganomics and the Kemp-Roth Tax Cut of 1981. Supply-side advocates of tax cuts claimed that lower tax rates would generate more tax revenue because the United States government's marginal income tax rates prior to the legislation were on the right-hand side of the curve. As a successful actor, Reagan himself had been subject to marginal tax rates as high as 90% during World War II. During the Reagan presidency, the top marginal rate of tax in the US fell from 70% to 31%, while revenue continued to increase during his tenure. However tax cuts compounded by increases in government spending caused the national debt to rise, obscuring the effects of the Laffer curve. According to the CBO historical tables, income taxes as a percentage of GDP declined from 9.4% in 1981 to a range of 7.8% to 8.4% through 1989."
This "Curve" is touted by the Koch's Heritage Foundation.
And all of this started with the founding of ALEC in the mid 1970's. For more than 40 years now, Koch, Laffer and other "scholars" serving Koch and ALEC's interests have pushed us in the direction they want us to go as a society. We see the continued pursuits of their philosophy and intent with the current political events attacking labor, supporting more privatization and imprisonment in many states today - keep the "Treatise" in mind...
Obviously Snyder, Walker, Kasich, Daniels, LePage and Scott in Florida are all influenced by corporate interests through ALEC. In Florida Governor Scott pickedHayden Dempsey from Greenberg Traurig to serve as his Special Counsel. Greenberg lobbied for Koch Industries, and assisted Sarah Palin since she came upon the political scene, and Greenberg Traurig represents PRIDE Enterprises (FL. Prison Industry Corporation) – you get the picture. Is Greenberg Traurig connected to CCA and represent their interests in private prison operations - immigrations - juveniles? Sure. How about a connection between Greenberg Traurig and Geo Group? Again, yep! And they were involved in the Cornell Corrections and Geo Group merger.
Guess that's enough for now. I am trying to keep the names and issues before the DK Readers so they have an opportunity to understand exactly how ALEC and their satellite corporate and legislative members operate, what the agenda is and how that agenda impacts upon each of us as taxpayers.
The students at the Rally against ALEC in Cincinnati last month got it. They know their education is on the line - as is the funding for that college education. They represent the best hope left to us as a society combating this Conservative war waged against us by such a devious and formidable cabal. Let's hope their efforts - combined with ours - will prevail.