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Friday, June 22, 2012

It didn't start with Reagan
Posted by Jill | 6:06 AM
Paul Krugman writes today about how the mini-scandal surrounding New Jersey Governor and bullying wet dream VP candidate of the 24 x 7 news-o-tainment cycle Chris Christie's ties to a corrupt and ineptly run private system of halfway houses. The poor job being done by many private companies that handle activities that used to be handled by government is the great untold story of the conservative doctrine. As Krugman notes, when a company is given government money in a no-bid contract, or when a company is chosen from multiple bids because of its ties to lawmakers, the much-vaunted "free market" is hardly in place.

But of even more significance than Krugman's column, and what it says about the Randian dream nation that surely awaits us under the presidency of Willard Rmoney and his dressage horse, is a mention in the comments section of the Powell memo of 1971.

I wasn't familiar with this memo, but the miracle of Teh Google revealed it to me. It's a mark of how insane the Supreme Court has become in recent years that Lewis Powell is now remembered as a moderate. But in 1971, just months before Richard Nixon nominated him to the Supreme Court, Powell sent a letter to U.S. Chamber of Commerce director Eugene Sydnor, Jr. Reading this memo today, we can see that this letter, which pre-dates Ronald Reagan's presidency by nearly a decade, is the seed corn for the social Darwinist, out-of-control corporatist culture and government which we see today. Powell focuses on what he believed to be the pernicious influence of higher education in fomenting the then-ongoing rebellion against corporate interests.

Some excerpts (the rest is here):
The overriding first need is for businessmen to recognize that the ultimate issue may be survival -- survival of what we call the free enterprise system, and all that this means for the strength and prosperity of America and the freedom of our people.

The day is long past when the chief executive officer of a major corporation discharges his responsibility by maintaining a satisfactory growth of profits, with due regard to the corporation's public and social responsibilities. If our system is to survive, top management must be equally concerned with protecting and preserving the system itself. This involves far more than an increased emphasis on "public relations" or "governmental affairs" -- two areas in which corporations long have invested substantial sums.

A significant first step by individual corporations could well be the designation of an executive vice president (ranking with other executive VP's) whose responsibility is to counter-on the broadest front-the attack on the enterprise system. The public relations department could be one of the foundations assigned to this executive, but his responsibilities should encompass some of the types of activities referred to subsequently in this memorandum. His budget and staff should be adequate to the task.

The assault on the enterprise system was not mounted in a few months. It has gradually evolved over the past two decades, barely perceptible in its origins and benefiting (sic) from a gradualism that provoked little awareness much less any real reaction.

Although origins, sources and causes are complex and interrelated, and obviously difficult to identify without careful qualification, there is reason to believe that the campus is the single most dynamic source. The social science faculties usually include members who are unsympathetic to the enterprise system. They may range from a Herbert Marcuse, Marxist faculty member at the University of California at San Diego, and convinced socialists, to the ambivalent liberal critic who finds more to condemn than to commend. Such faculty members need not be in a majority. They are often personally attractive and magnetic; they are stimulating teachers, and their controversy attracts student following; they are prolific writers and lecturers; they author many of the textbooks, and they exert enormous influence -- far out of proportion to their numbers -- on their colleagues and in the academic world.

Social science faculties (the political scientist, economist, sociologist and many of the historians) tend to be liberally oriented, even when leftists are not present. This is not a criticism per se, as the need for liberal thought is essential to a balanced viewpoint. The difficulty is that "balance" is conspicuous by its absence on many campuses, with relatively few members being of conservatives or moderate persuasion and even the relatively few often being less articulate and aggressive than their crusading colleagues.

This situation extending back many years and with the imbalance gradually worsening, has had an enormous impact on millions of young American students. In an article in Barron's Weekly, seeking an answer to why so many young people are disaffected even to the point of being revolutionaries, it was said: "Because they were taught that way."10 Or, as noted by columnist Stewart Alsop, writing about his alma mater: "Yale, like every other major college, is graduating scores' of bright young men ... who despise the American political and economic system."

As these "bright young men," from campuses across the country, seek opportunities to change a system which they have been taught to distrust -- if not, indeed "despise" -- they seek employment in the centers of the real power and influence in our country, namely: (i) with the news media, especially television; (ii) in government, as "staffers" and consultants at various levels; (iii) in elective politics; (iv) as lecturers and writers, and (v) on the faculties at various levels of education.

Many do enter the enterprise system -- in business and the professions -- and for the most part they quickly discover the fallacies of what they have been taught. But those who eschew the mainstream of the system often remain in key positions of influence where they mold public opinion and often shape governmental action. In many instances, these "intellectuals" end up in regulatory agencies or governmental departments with large authority over the business system they do not believe in.

If the foregoing analysis is approximately sound, a priority task of business -- and organizations such as the Chamber -- is to address the campus origin of this hostility. Few things are more sanctified in American life than academic freedom. It would be fatal to attack this as a principle. But if academic freedom is to retain the qualities of "openness," "fairness" and "balance" -- which are essential to its intellectual significance -- there is a great opportunity for constructive action. The thrust of such action must be to restore the qualities just mentioned to the academic communities.

The Chamber should insist upon equal time on the college speaking circuit. The FBI publishes each year a list of speeches made on college campuses by avowed Communists. The number in 1970 exceeded 100. There were, of course, many hundreds of appearances by leftists and ultra liberals who urge the types of viewpoints indicated earlier in this memorandum. There was no corresponding representation of American business, or indeed by individuals or organizations who appeared in support of the American system of government and business.

Every campus has its formal and informal groups which invite speakers. Each law school does the same thing. Many universities and colleges officially sponsor lecture and speaking programs. We all know the inadequacy of the representation of business in the programs.

It will be said that few invitations would be extended to Chamber speakers.11 This undoubtedly would be true unless the Chamber aggressively insisted upon the right to be heard -- in effect, insisted upon "equal time." University administrators and the great majority of student groups and committees would not welcome being put in the position publicly of refusing a forum to diverse views, indeed, this is the classic excuse for allowing Communists to speak.

The two essential ingredients are (i) to have attractive, articulate and well-informed speakers; and (ii) to exert whatever degree of pressure -- publicly and privately -- may be necessary to assure opportunities to speak. The objective always must be to inform and enlighten, and not merely to propagandize.

What Can Be Done About the Public?
Reaching the campus and the secondary schools is vital for the long-term. Reaching the public generally may be more important for the shorter term. The first essential is to establish the staffs of eminent scholars, writers and speakers, who will do the thinking, the analysis, the writing and the speaking. It will also be essential to have staff personnel who are thoroughly familiar with the media, and how most effectively to communicate with the public. Among the more obvious means are the following:

The national television networks should be monitored in the same way that textbooks should be kept under constant surveillance. This applies not merely to so-called educational programs (such as "Selling of the Pentagon"), but to the daily "news analysis" which so often includes the most insidious type of criticism of the enterprise system.12 Whether this criticism results from hostility or economic ignorance, the result is the gradual erosion of confidence in "business" and free enterprise.

This monitoring, to be effective, would require constant examination of the texts of adequate samples of programs. Complaints -- to the media and to the Federal Communications Commission -- should be made promptly and strongly when programs are unfair or inaccurate.

Equal time should be demanded when appropriate. Effort should be made to see that the forum-type programs (the Today Show, Meet the Press, etc.) afford at least as much opportunity for supporters of the American system to participate as these programs do for those who attack it.

Other Media
Radio and the press are also important, and every available means should be employed to challenge and refute unfair attacks, as well as to present the affirmative case through these media.

The Scholarly Journals
It is especially important for the Chamber's "faculty of scholars" to publish. One of the keys to the success of the liberal and leftist faculty members has been their passion for "publication" and "lecturing." A similar passion must exist among the Chamber's scholars.

Incentives might be devised to induce more "publishing" by independent scholars who do believe in the system.

There should be a fairly steady flow of scholarly articles presented to a broad spectrum of magazines and periodicals -- ranging from the popular magazines (Life, Look, Reader's Digest, etc.) to the more intellectual ones (Atlantic, Harper's, Saturday Review, New York, etc.)13 and to the various professional journals.

Books, Paperbacks and Pamphlets
The news stands -- at airports, drugstores, and elsewhere -- are filled with paperbacks and pamphlets advocating everything from revolution to erotic free love. One finds almost no attractive, well-written paperbacks or pamphlets on "our side." It will be difficult to compete with an Eldridge Cleaver or even a Charles Reich for reader attention, but unless the effort is made -- on a large enough scale and with appropriate imagination to assure some success -- this opportunity for educating the public will be irretrievably lost.

Paid Advertisements
Business pays hundreds of millions of dollars to the media for advertisements. Most of this supports specific products; much of it supports institutional image making; and some fraction of it does support the system. But the latter has been more or less tangential, and rarely part of a sustained, major effort to inform and enlighten the American people.

If American business devoted only 10% of its total annual advertising budget to this overall purpose, it would be a statesman-like expenditure.

This manifesto then goes on to discuss how business can foster its own interests in government, in the court system, and by marshaling stockholder power. It is a stunning call to arms in which we can see the birth of what we see today -- corporate-owned media, "conservative" think tanks which provide pseudo-intellectual cover for radical right-wingers who at the time this letter was written were regarded as John Bircher kooks, the rise of so-called "Christian colleges" who parrot the corporatist line as much as they inculcate retrograde moral "values". And then finally, there's Willard Rmoney -- the perfect embodiment of Lewis Powell's dream.

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Anonymous e.a.f. said...
Now that was an interesting read. Lovely blue print which obviously has been well followed.

WW II with its G.I. bill enabled thousands to attend university. These people had the benefit of seeing first hand what fascist society did to its citizens.

With an increasingly educated citizenry things began to change in the U.S.A. We saw great changes in American society & its laws. Must have been truly frightening for the 1%ers.

With a game plan to convince small business its interests lay with big business, forward they went. Since the age of greed, 1980s, not much has improved for the average American & Canadian worker. Or for that matter, small business owners.

The 1%ers have now found a perfect candidate, Mitt Romney. Canada was a bit faster off the mark & they found Steven Harper. Both of these men are only interested in the agenda of the multinational corporations. Harper is busy selling Canada to China & the U.S.A. has been already bought by China.

If we wish to once again own our own countries & minimize corporate influence,it is simple, go out & vote for the person/party which will give you what you want. Remember the interests of multi national corporations are not the same as the average householder, regardless of what they tell you.

when multi national corps. pay their executives multi million dollar compensation packages, this is money which is not being paid to the share holders.

The destruction of the American middle class is essential for multinational elite/corporations. If it can not be destroyed other people in other countries will want to have the same thing. That will never do.

The "trickle down" theory, is just that. A theory & it doesn't work. 1% of the population can not keep 99% of the population employed. Just doesn't work. what works? A lot of people who have adequate incomes so they feel comfortable purchasing homes, cars, cloths, appliances, take vacations, etc.

When governments are busily axing teachers, police, firefighters, health care professionals they are in fact destroying the group who has some disposable income & health care plans. Adequate health care plans are essential to a healthy population & economy. If people are putting all their money into health insurance there isn't any money left for other things to purchase,like that new fridge & stove.

This group of workers is especially dangerous to the 1%ers. They are essentially working/middle class who have an education, a union, a decent standard of living. If states retained these workers, they would decrease their unemployment rate & increase the amount of money out & about in the local economy.

The "plan" was well used in 2001 in British Columbia, Canada by a newly elected premier. We saw the largest mass firing of female workers in Canadian history, 9000.

These workers were hospital cleaners, unionized, making approx. $18 an hr. This enabled women to purchase homes, feed & cloth their children, send them to college, take them on vacations, etc. By firing them & contracting out these jobs the salaries became $10 an hr. The result, women no longer could provide for their families & increased deaths in hospitals due to diseases. What did the premier get, an invitation to the Bilderberg conferance. Yes, I'm sure they wanted to know how he achieved the dismantling of an entire sector.

Wisconsin was not a first, British Columbia was. The politicians simply used the B.C. model. It worked in Wisconsin & now it will work in other states if people do not see the writing on the wall & vote in their own interests & not the interests of the corporate elite.

Only 3 Canadians have ever been invited to the bilderberg conferance, a national newscaster, Peter Mansbridge, Gordon Campell, former premier of B.C., & now the premier of Alberta--texas north.

It might be interesting to see how many Americans have been invited to that little shindig.