December 25, 2011


ABC Radio National

Coal is King

Malcolm Turnbull (1954):
As the world's largest coal exporter we have a vested interest in showing that we can provide both lower emissions and reliable baseload power with state-of-the-art clean coal technology.
(National Press Club, 2016)

Tony Wood [Director, Energy Program, Grattan Institute]:
What are we talking about here, in terms of this what appears to be a contradiction in terms: clean coal?
The Prime Minister [is] in some ways is flying a kite, [since] no one's [knows] what he's actually going to do next. …
[If] you are looking to [invest in] coal fired power stations, with low emissions (because the technology does exist) …
What technology?
Tony Wood:
… you're not going to do that without … significant subsidies from government, which we do have but only so far for wind and solar …
Apart from the $9 billion a year in direct and indirect subsidies to the fossil fuel industry via energy and transport.
Tony Wood:
More gas, which is also quite expensive in Australia …
Unless gas is quarantined for electricity generation (as opposed to being exported) as currently occurs in Western Australia.
Tony Wood:
What we do have is a vacuum of [state and] federal climate change policy … you can't specifically blame anybody for that except perhaps government generally …
A failure of government or a failure of governance?
  • Leaders advocating the repeal of the carbon price and dismantling of the clean energy infrastructure, and
  • enough people willing to follow them.

Grattan Institute:
[We] cannot rely [on] switching to gas-fired electricity to achieve all our emissions reductions.
[The carbon intensity of coal-fired power stations is between 0.8 and 1.2 tonnes of CO2 for every megawatt-hour of electricity produced.]
Conventional gas-fired power plants can achieve … about 0.4 tonnes of CO2 emitted per megawatt-hour. Australia must achieve a carbon intensity of 0.2 tonnes of CO2 per megawatt-hour or lower if it is to meet its targets.
(p 4)

A range of technologies available today can generate electricity at or below 0.2 tonnes of CO2 per megawatt-hour and have significant scale-up potential (excepting hydro, for which little expansion is feasible in Australia). …
[The] most important task will be to further refine the underlying power technologies such as wind turbine blades, photovoltaic cells and fuel combustion.
(No easy choices: which way to Australia’s energy future?, February 2012, p 6)

Supercritical steam technology is applicable to combined cycle gas turbines and solar thermal as well as coal.
This suggests that while supercritical coal may be "cleaner" than conventional coal it is just as "dirty" in comparison with supercritical gas or solar.
Therefore, from a mitigation viewpoint, if you were choosing between conventional coal and supercritical coal you would go for supercritical coal.
If you're choosing between supercritical coal, gas or solar; gas or solar would still be superior.

Using (ultra) supercritical coal fired power plants with thermal efficiencies of 45% (conventional coal being 33%) instead of combined cycle gas turbines with thermal efficiencies of 60% means additional carbon savings would need to be found in other sectors.
Which sectors and at what cost?
And what is the market mechanism for delivering emissions reductions at least cost across the economy?
A carbon price.

Of the 22 demonstration [clean coal] projects funded by the US Department of Energy since 2003, none are in operation as of February 2017, having been abandoned or delayed due to capital budget overruns or discontinued because of excessive operating expenses.
(Coal pollution mitigation, 19 February 2017)

In most scenarios for stabilization of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations between 450 and 750 ppmv CO2 and in a least-cost portfolio of mitigation options, the economic potential of CCS would amount to 220-2,200 GtCO2 (60–600 GtC) cumulatively, which would mean that CCS contributes 15–55% to the cumulative mitigation effort worldwide until 2100, averaged over a range of baseline scenarios. …
For CCS to achieve such an economic potential, several hundreds to thousands of CO2 capture systems would need to be installed over the coming century, each capturing some 1–5 MtCO2 per year.
(Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage, IPCC Special Report, Summary for Policymakers approved at Eighth Session of IPCC Working Group III, 22-24 September, 2005, p 12, emphasis added)
Where are they?

Grattan Institute:
Gas can play a important bridging role, but in the longer-term Australia will need to either
  • retrofit existing coal and gas plants with Carbon Capture and Storage technology or
  • replace them with low-or zero-carbon technologies. …
(No easy choices: which way to Australia’s energy future?, p 5, emphasis added)
If carbon capture and storage does become available, replacing coal fired with bioenergy power plants (BECSS) rather than refitting coal plants with CCS would be the optimal strategy — since BECSS actually draws down atmospheric carbon.

(The Role of Coal, 13 February 2017)

Trickle Up Economics

Amanda Vanstone (1952)

When governments get out of the way, things in the economy can get going.
Perhaps we should be saying to our governments:
We don't want you to spend more. …
What we want you to do is undo some of your regulation.
Get out of the way and let the business people get on with it and make a buck.
And create jobs, and wealth and income.
(Counterpoint, 10 October 2016)

I am in the category of people who say:
Why do we keep regulating and passing laws?
We've had a law against murder for a long time and it hasn't worked!
There's a lot of people [who] put a lot of faith in regulation without realizing [that we then have to] pay a lot of public servants … to implement [it.]

(Counterpoint, 13 June 2016)

Climate change! [exasperation]
You're so ABC, Fran … [laughs]

(The Party Room, 26 May 2016)

It is primarily the Coalition that says we have to the deficit and public debt under control. …
[While Labor] sees itself as owning the concept of fair shares.
[This] makes it very easy, whenever you want to bring a budget back into some sort of control and make any cuts, to say:
Lower income people shouldn't have to pay anything for this — even though they may have been the beneficiaries of the spending which in large part has contributed to the deficit.
(Counterpoint, 16 May 2016)

Left-wing Scepticism

Clive Hamilton (1953)

In the 1990s [a Trotskyist splinter group in the United Kingdom known as the Revolutionary Communist Party] published a controversialist journal titled Living Marxism (later LM Magazine) that frequently ran bitter attacks on environmentalism, describing it as a middle-class indulgence and a neo-colonial smokescreen.
(p 213)

The successor to LM lives on in cyberspace in the form of Spiked, a lively online mix of ultra-libertarianism and 'left-wing' opinion …

[In 2007] activists associated with the Revolutionary Communist Party were responsible for … documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle. …
Immediately after it was broadcast, Spiked editor Brendan O'Neill wrote a vigorous defense of … the film's anti-environmental claims veiled by appeals to the right to dissent.
(p 214)

Speaking on behalf of the forgotten working class [O'Neill has written that:]
{[Our job is to attack] the ugly elitism and end-of-days mania of the environmentalist movement …}

[Environmental elites] cannot comprehend, indeed are "baffled" by,
  • our everyday behaviour,
  • our desire to have families,
  • our resistance to hectoring,
  • our dream of being wealthier, better travelled,
  • our hopes of live life to the full. …
(p 216)

The accord between some elements of the far left and far right is grounded in
  • their shared beliefs in the priority of material consumption in human wellbeing,
  • their defence of human domination of nature, and
  • their anti-authoritarian commitment to individual rights.
While conservatives saw environmentalism as a threat to capitalism and the American way of life, some on the far left saw environmentalism as a threat to their objective of overthrowing capitalism because it was a distraction from the main game.
(p 215)

Neo-conservatives have for years fulminated against the influence of post-modernism in university campuses and schools, with its pernicious promotion of 'moral relativism'.
They see themselves as defending objective truth after decades of, leftist challenge to the Western canon.
Yet in the case of climate change the conservative counter-movement has actively promoted those who challenge the established science.
Sceptical commentators like
  • Charles Krauthammer in the United States,
  • Melanie Phillips in Britain,
  • Mark Steyn in Canada and
  • Michael Duffy in Australia
not only dismiss the science but repeatedly attempt to 'deconstruct' the motives of the scientists who carry it out.
They are always on the lookout for biases and prejudices that could lie behind the scientific facts on global warming, explaining away the vast accumulation of evidence by impugning the motives of those who collect it.
(p 216)

In their view, scientific truth is malleable, contingent and contestable.
Like the creationists who believe that victory requires them to destroy the theory of evolution, they promote a form of anti-scientific fundamentalism that has less regard for scientific method than the most committed [social] constructivist on any university campus.
(p 217)

(Requiem For A Species, 2010)

A Cherry-Picker's Guide to Climate Change

Five ways of not seeing a warming trend in climate data:

  1. Start point — choose a peak such a year with a strong El Nino and/or a solar maximum.
  2. End point — choose a trough due to a strong La Nina or volcanic activity.
  3. Data set — choose a data set that has poor coverage of high latitudes (ie the arctic) where warming is three times the global average eg Hadley.
  4. Time span — choose a short time span (less than 25 years) so natural variability swamps the underlying climate signal.
  5. Compartment — the total energy content of the climate system is distributed between ocean, land and atmosphere.
    If you ignore ocean and land you can exclude the vast majority of energy being trapped by greenhouse gases.

Hey Presto!
No global warming.

Would you like to know more?

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Green Army: Communications

To Infinity and Beyond!

Space … is big.
Really big.

Douglas Adams (1952 – 2001), The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Chapter 8, 1979.

(Emer Reynolds, The Farthest, 2017)

(Gravitational Waves, Catalyst, ABC Television, 29 March 2016)

(The Utopia Girls: How Women Won The Vote, ABC Television, June 2012)

Brendan O'Neill [Editor, Spiked Online]:
[Trolling] is a free speech issue.
[What] we have is a situation where people are being prevented from saying certain things — often … just insults or abuse.
In my mind that falls under the category of freedom speech.
And if you're not free to hate someone, then you're not free. …
[I get abused] all the time.
If you put yourself out there, if you express and opinion, if you say what you think — you will get abuse.
But … that's the price you pay for living in free society …
My concern … is that everything gets conflated.
So you have a situation in which trolling can be everything from someone issuing a death threat — which is obviously a serious thing to do — to someone writing an article saying:
I don't think climate change is not the biggest problem facing humanity.
If we are serious about freedom of speech then we have to allow people to say hateful, obnoxious, racist, sexist things.
(Jonathan Baltrusaitis, Rise of the Trolls, 20 June 2016)

Anthony Grayling (1949):
[Liberty] is not licence … it is open-minded, tolerant and reasonable restraint.
(The Meaning of Things, Phoenix, 2001, p 141)

Geoff Thompson:
Bond University's Paul Glasziou chaired a 2015 review of homeopathy by … the National Health and Medical Research Council.

Professor Paul Glasziou:
[The] conclusion we came to was that there was no convincing evidence for homeopathy for any of the conditions that it's been studied in, which is actually quite a few.
So it's not there's no evidence, it's that there's quite a lot of evidence.
It's either poor quality evidence or the good quality evidence suggests there's no effect. …

Carl Gibson [CEO, Complementary Medicines Australia]:
I'm saying the jury is still out on the NHMRC review — it was fundamentally flawed and skewed from day number one.
If we're going to have a proper review, let's have a proper review but to actually set the parameters so high that pharmaceutical studies wouldn't make it through, I think is questionable. …
Homeopathy has been around for thousands and thousands of years …
(Swallowing It, Four Corners, ABC Television, 13 February 2017)

Tim Costello:
[For] every dollar a man earns … 40 cents goes to the kids and family.
For every dollar a woman earns … 90 cents goes to the kids and family.
(774 ABC Melbourne, ABC Local Radio, 22 August 2012)

By 2030, the number of asbestos deaths in Australia is predicted to reach 60,000, equalling the number of Australians killed in the first world war.
(Devil's Dust, ABC Television, 2015)

Julian Porteous [Catholic Archbishop of Hobart]:
[If] you have a same-sex attraction it's not appropriate for you to be responsible for the nurture of children.
(For Better or Worse, Four Corners, ABC Television, 10 October 2016)

Malcolm Turnbull [Prime Minister of Australia]:
[We, in the Liberal party,] are not run by factions.
Nor are we run by big business or by deals in back rooms.
We rely on the ideas and the energy and the enterprise of our membership.
(Man on a Wire, Four Corners, ABC Television, 8 August 2016)

Joe Hockey [Federal Treasurer]:
I find [wind turbines] utterly offensive.
I think they are just a blight on the landscape.
(Power to the People, Four Corners, ABC Television, 7 July 2014)

Scott Heron [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration]:
It wasn’t just the El Nino.
2014 was the warmest year on record — an over 100-year record.
2015 exceeded that record by a new margin.
And we have estimates of a 99% chance that we’re gonna break that record again [this year.]
If you are 30 years or younger, you have never experienced a normal temperature month.
(Coral Bleaching, Catalyst, ABC Television, 11 October 2016)

Jonica Newby:
[What] the records show is that global warming isn't something that's coming — it's here … already.
It's pointless … to ask,
Is this climate change or natural variability?
What we see is one acting on top of the other.
(Taking Our Temperature, Catalyst, ABC Television, 15 November 2012)

December 22, 2011

Andrew Bolt

Blue Army: Persons of Interest

Charles Darwin (1809 – 1882):
[Ignorance] more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge …
(The Descent of Man, 1871)

David Marr (1947):
[23 June 2003:] Andrew Bolt of the Herald Sun publishs details from a highly classified report by Andrew Wilkie, who had left the Office of National Assessments to blow the whistle on dodgy intelligence used to justify the Iraq war.
[John Howard's] office had already spread the story that Wilkie was mentally unstable.
Bolt mocked Wilkie's ONA predictions of civilian deaths and refugee numbers should war break out as "fairytale."
(The figures proved conservative.)
[Alexander Downer's] staff was widely assumed to be responsible for the leak, but no culprit was ever found.
(His Master's Voice, Quarterly Essay, Issue 26, Black Inc, 2007, p 56)

Isaiah Berlin (1909 – 1997)

[Even in the most liberal societies, individual freedom is not] the sole, or even the dominant, criterion of social action.
We compel children to be educated, and we forbid public executions.
These are certainly curbs to freedom.
We justify them on the ground that ignorance, or a barbarian upbringing, or cruel pleasures and excitements are worse for us than the amount of restraint needed to repress them.
This judgement in turn depends on how we determine good and evil, that is to say, on our moral, religious, intellectual, economic and aesthetic values; which are, in their turn, bound up with our conception of man, and of the basic demands of his nature. …

To protest against the laws governing censorship or personal morals as intolerable infringements of personal liberty presupposes a belief that the activities which such laws forbid are fundamental needs of men as men, in a good … society.
To defend such laws is to hold that these needs are not essential, or that they cannot be satisfied without sacrificing other values which come higher … than individual freedom …

The extent of a man's, or a people's, liberty to choose to live as he or they desire must be weighed against the claims of many other values, of which equality, or justice, or happiness, or security, or public order are, perhaps, the most obvious examples. …

To preserve our absolute categories or ideals at the expense of human lives offends equally against the principles of science and of history; it is an attitude found in equal measure on the right and left wings in our days, and is not reconcilable with the principles accepted by those who respect the facts.

(Two Concepts of Liberty, Four Essays on Liberty, 1969)

John Stuart Mill (1806 – 1873)

Undoubtedly the manner of asserting an opinion, even though it be a true one, may be very objectionable, and may justly incur severe censure. …
The gravest [offences of this kind are:]
  • to argue sophistically,
  • to suppress facts or arguments,
  • to misstate the elements of the case, or
  • [to] misrepresent the opposite opinion. …

Acts injurious to others {are fit objects of moral reprobation, and, in grave cases, of moral retribution and punishment [ie:]}
  • Encroachment on their rights;
  • infliction on them of any loss or damage not justified by his own rights;
  • falsehood or duplicity in dealing with them;
  • unfair or ungenerous use of advantages over them;
  • even selfish abstinence from defending them against injury

And not only these acts, but the dispositions which lead to them, are properly immoral, and fit subjects of disapprobation which may rise to abhorrence.
  • Cruelty of disposition;
  • malice and ill-nature; …
  • envy;
  • dissimulation and insincerity, irascibility on insufficient cause, and resentment disproportioned to the provocation;
  • the love of domineering over others;
  • the desire to engross more than one's share of advantages …
  • the pride which derives gratification from the abasement of others;
  • the egotism which thinks self and its concerns more important than everything else, and decides all doubtful questions in its own favour;
— these are moral vices, and constitute a bad and odious moral character …

[Should an individual infringe] the rules necessary for the protection of his fellow creatures, individually or collectively [such that the] evil consequences of his acts do not then fall on himself, but on others …
[Then] society, as the protector of all its members,
  • must retaliate on him
  • must inflict pain on him for the express purpose of punishment, and
  • must take care that it be sufficiently severe. …

Whenever, in short, there is a definite damage, or a definite risk of damage, either to an individual or to the public, the case is taken out of the province of liberty, and placed in that of morality or law.

(On Liberty, 1859, emphasis added)

Wendy Bacon (1946)

[Bolt] plays a significant and strategic role in the production of climate scepticism in Australia.
He is employed by [News Limited's Herald Sun] and Channel Ten and feature[s] on John Singleton’s right wing radio station 2GB.
News Corp heavily promotes Bolt as Australia’s “most read columnist”.
(p 93)

[The strategies he uses to cast doubt on climate science] include
  • personal abuse,
  • cherry picking specific findings to refute the entire body of findings of climate scientists,
  • portrayal of advocates of climate action as ideologically motivated with totalitarian tendencies and
  • criticism of journalists who report on climate science.
(p 94)

(Climate Science in Australian Newspapers, ACIJ, October 2013)

Fact vs Opinion

Andrew Bolt:
For at least a decade the planet has not warmed even though emissions have soared.
(p 3)

Australian Communications and Media Authority:
[In] the course of the interview it was made clear that there is debate over levels of warming and its causes.
The ordinary reasonable viewer would have understood that this is a contentious issue and that other viewpoints exist.

In the context of the segment in its entirety, the ACMA considers that it was clear that the assertion about the warming of the planet over the last decade and the rate of such warming was contestable, and a matter of opinion.
As such it was not required to be accurate. …
(p 6)

The ACMA must assess whether the relevant statement would have been understood by the ordinary reasonable listener/viewer as a statement of fact or an expression of opinion.
[Inferences] made from observed facts are usually [also] characterised as factual material …
(p 18)

Statements in the nature of prediction as to future events would nearly always be characterised as statements of opinion.
(italics added, p 19)

[Licensees] are not required to present all factual material available to them …
[However,] if the omission of some factual material means that the factual material actually broadcast is not presented accurately, that would amount to a breach of the clause.
(p 18)

(ACMA Investigation Report 2709)

December 21, 2011

Koch Industries

Blue Army: Finance

The Golden Rule: He who has the gold rules

Jane Mayer (1955):
[Steve Schwarzman, chairman and CEO of Blackstone,] made $398.3 million in 2006, which was 9 times more than the CEO of Goldman Sachs.
On top of this, his shares in Blackstone were valued at more than $7 billion.
(p 254)

The [carried interest] loophole was in essence an accounting trick that enabled hedge fund and private equity managers to categorize huge portions of their income as “interest,” which was taxed at the 15% rate then applied to long-term capital gains.
This was less than half the income tax rate paid by other top-bracket wage earners.
[It is] estimated that the hedge fund loophole [costs] the government over $6 billion a year — the cost of providing health care to three million children.
Of that total … almost $2 billion a year … went to just 25 individuals [— an average tax concession of $80 million each.]
(p 255)

[In] December 2010 … Republican negotiators insisted on cuts in estate taxes that would cost the Treasury $23 billion and save some 6,600 of the wealthiest taxpayers an average of $1.5 million each.
The demand didn’t materialize out of thin air. …
[Beginning in 1998, the] Kochs and the DeVoses … joined with [15] of the other richest families in the country, including the Waltons of Walmart and the Mars candy clan, in financing and coordinating a massive, multiyear campaign to reduce and eventually repeal inheritance taxes.
[These] 17 families stood to save $71 billion from the tax change, explaining why they willingly spent almost half a billion collectively, lobbying for it …
(p 290)

From 2006 until 2009, Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of the former president, worked as an associate at Avenue Capital Group, a $14 billion private equity and hedge fund firm.
Marc Lasry, co-founder of Avenue Capital, was a major Clinton supporter as well as a $1 million investor in a fund managed by the Clintons’ son-in-law, Marc Mezvinsky.
The Clinton administration had been rife with Wall Street tycoons.
(Dark Money, Doubleday, 2016, p 323)

Jane Mayer (1955):
A 2008 study of the wealthiest 400 taxpayers … showed that they earned an average of $202 million and paid an effective income tax rate of less than 20%. …
In other words, the effective tax rate on earning $202 million was lower than the rate paid by Americans earning $34,501 a year.
(Dark Money, Doubleday, 2016, p 288)

Charles Koch (1935)Koch Industries$44.7B
David Koch (1940)Koch Industries$44.7B
Steve Schwarzman (1947)Blackstone$11.3B
Philip Anschutz (1939)Qwest$11.0B
Ken Griffin (1968)Citidal$7.0B
Richard DeVos (1926)Amway$5.8B
Diane Hendricks (1947)ABC Supply$3.6B
Ken Langone (1935)Home Depot$2.9B
Steve Bechtel (1925)Bechtel$2.7B
Stan Hubbard (1933)Hubbard Broadcasting$2.0B
Joe Craft (1950)Alliance Resource Partners$1.4B
Jane Mayer (1955):
Of the 200 or so participants meeting secretly [at the Koch's donor summit in Aspen in June 2010,] at least 11 [of the "investors"] were on Forbes’s list of the 400 wealthiest Americans.
(pp 256 & 411)

Fewer than 200 extraordinarily rich individuals and private foundations [account] for the $750 million pooled by DonorsTrust and its sister arm, Donors Capital Fund, since 1999.
(p 347)

You wish to keep your charitable giving private, especially gifts funding sensitive or controversial issues.
Set up a DonorsTrust account and ask that your gifts remain anonymous.
Know that any contributions to your DonorsTrust account that have to be reported to the IRS will not become public information.
Unlike with private foundations, gifts from your account will remain as anonymous as you request.
(p 206)

On November 4, 2014, the investors of the Koch network finally got their money’s worth.
Election Day proved a Republican triumph.
The GOP picked up 9 seats in the Senate, winning full control of both congressional chambers. …
From this point on [Obama] would be largely relegated to playing defense against conservatives’ efforts to roll back everything his administration had done before.
(p 370)

Whether their motives were virtuous or venal, in the course of a few decades a handful of [fabulously wealthy] right-wing philanthropists had changed the course of American politics.
They created a formidable wealth defense movement, which had become a sizable part of what [Peter Buffett] dubbed “the charitable-industrial complex.”
(p 377)

Art Pope (1956) [Former Director, Americans for Prosperity]:
America does not have an aristocracy or a plutocracy.
(p 343)

In a generation, we’ve shifted the public-policy debate in North Carolina from the center-left to the center-right.
(Dark Money, Doubleday, 2016, p 338)

Jane Mayer (1955):
For several years, [Paul Ryan] had been advocating radically deep cuts in government spending, including to Medicare and Medicaid, the two main government health programs for the elderly and the poor. …
His ideas were wildly popular with most of the wealthy donors.
As the country’s highest taxpayers, they would be the biggest beneficiaries of the tax savings produced by spending cuts.
[Needless to say,] none of them needed to rely on government social services for their health or welfare.
(Dark Money, Doubleday, 2016, p 266, emphasis added)

John Galbraith (1908 – 2006):
No legislation in American history [has been] more bitterly [opposed by business] than the … Social Security Act.
(A History of Economics, Penguin, 1987, p 217)

Jeffrey Winters (1960) [Professor of Political Science, Northwestern University]:
Conservative think tanks, which are almost exclusively funded by very wealthy people, are the front line of the income-defense industry.
(p 356)

Jane Mayer (1955):
[Donations to 501(c)(3) educational organizations can] be written off as tax-deductible charitable gifts.
But while [these can] “educate” the public [in libertarian theology they cannot] participate in electoral politics.
501(c)(4) “social welfare” [groups, on the other hand, can] participate in electoral politics so long as this was not [their] “primary” activity.
[These donations can] be made in secret but [are] not tax deductible.
(p 187)

[Thus, if a 501(c)(4)] group spent 49% of its funds on politics, it complied with the law because it … wasn’t “primarily” engaged in politics.
[Such groups could also] claim no political spending if it gave to another such group, even if the latter spent the funds on politics. …
For example, at the end of 2010, the Center to Protect Patient Rights reported on its tax return that it spent no money on politics.
Yet it granted $103 million to other conservative groups, most of which were actively engaged in the midterm elections. …

In 2006 [before the Citizens United decision,] only 2% of “outside” political spending came from “social welfare” groups that hid their donors.
In 2010, this number rose to 40%, [laundering] hundreds of millions of dollars.
(p 248)

[In] 2009 and 2010 the health insurance industry secretly funneled over $86 million into the US Chamber of Commerce for attack ads [on Obamacare.]
(p 410)

[In] 2012 the Kochs’ network of a few hundred individuals spent at least $407 million, almost all of it anonymously. …
[This] was more than the combined contributions to the two presidential campaigns made by 5,667,658 Americans, whose donations were legally capped at $5,000.
[That is to say,] the top 0.04% of donors contributed about the same amount as the bottom 68%.
(p 314, emphasis added)

Phil Dubose [27 year Koch Industries veteran]:
[The Koch's] mismeasuring crude oil from the Indian reservations [just] as they did all over the US.
If you bought crude, you’d shorten the gauge. …
They’d recalibrate them, so if it showed a barrel, they’d say it was just three-quarters of a barrel when they were buying it. …
You cheated.
If we sold a barge with fifteen hundred barrels, you’d say it was two thousand. …
That was the Koch Method. …

The Kochs never did play by the rules. …
They just didn’t abide by anything.
Not the EPA or anything else.
They constantly polluted.
If they got fined, it didn’t matter, because they made so much money doing it.
We never reported things like busted pipeline out in the field. …
When we spilled oil, we never reported the real amount.
We were told to do that, to keep our costs down.
(pp 136-7)

What they want is to get their own way.
They call themselves libertarians.
[What that] means is that if you’re big enough to get away with it, you can get away with it.
No government.
If it’s good for their business, they think it’s good for America.
What it means for the country, is it would release the dogs.
The little people?
They’d get gobbled up.
(p 377)

Charles Koch (1935):
I just want my fair share — which is all of it.
(p 378)

John Olin (1892 – 1982):
My greatest ambition now is to see free enterprise reestablished in this country.
Business and the public must be awakened to the creeping stranglehold that socialism has gained here since World War II. …

Jane Mayer (1955):
[In his essay "The Intellectuals and Capitalism" Friedrich Hayek emphasized that] to conquer politics, one must first conquer the intellectuals.
(p 100, emphasis added)

William Simon (1927 – 2000) [President, Olin Foundation]:
What we need is a counter-intelligentsia …
[It] can be organized to challenge our ruling ‘new class’ — opinion makers …
Ideas are weapons — indeed the only weapons with which other ideas can be fought.
Capitalism has no duty to subsidize its enemies.
[Conservatives must cease] the mindless subsidizing of colleges and universities whose departments of politics, economics and history are hostile to capitalism.
[Instead, they] must take pains to funnel desperately needed funds to scholars, social scientists and writers who understand the relationship between political and economic liberty …
They must be given grants, grants, and more grants in exchange for books, books, and more books.
(p 102)

Jane Mayer (1955):
Without the rigorous peer-reviewed standards required by [the academic press,] the Olin Foundation was able to inject into the mainstream a number of works whose scholarship was debatable at best.
(p 106)

Oliver Smedley (1911 – 1989) [Cofounder, Institute of Economic Affairs}:
[It is] imperative that we should give no indication in our literature that we are working to educate the public along certain lines which might be interpreted as having a political bias.
In other words, if we said openly that we were re-teaching the economics of the free market, it might enable our enemies to question the charitableness of our motives.
(p 80)

James Piereson [Conservative Scholar, Manhattan Institute]:
[It is] essential for the integrity and reputation of [conservative academic] programs that they be defined not by ideological points of view [but] in terms of fields of study, [like the] John M Olin Fellowships in Military History. …
Often a program can be given a philosophical or principled identity by giving it the name of an important historical figure, such as the James Madison Program [in] American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. …
(p 104)

Economic analysis tends to have conservatizing effects. …
If you said to a dean that you wanted to fund conservative constitutional law, he would reject the idea out of hand.
But if you said you wanted to support Law and Economics, he would be much more open to the idea …
Law and Economics is neutral, but it has a philosophical thrust in the direction of free markets and limited government.
That is, like many disciplines, it seems neutral, but … in fact, [it isn’t.]
(Jane Mayer, Dark Money, Doubleday, 2016, p 108)

Tim Phillips (1964) [President, American for Prosperity]:
[Republican] candidates have figured out that [climate] science has become political …
[That] if you … buy into green energy … you do so at your political peril.
The vast majority of people who are involved in the [Republican] conventions and the primaries [are now suspicious] of the science.
[That’s] our influence.
Groups like Americans for Prosperity have done [that.]
(Coral Davenport, Heads in the Sand, National Journal, 3 December 2011)

Gerrymandering — An American Institution

The REDistributing MAjority Project: Buying democracy on the cheap

With Obama dominating Washington, [Republican strategist Ed Gillespie, looked to the states.
He knew that 2011 was a year in which many state legislatures would redraw the boundaries of their congressional districts based on a new census, a process that only took place once a decade.
So he put together an ambitious strategy aimed at a Republican takeover of governorships and legislatures all across the country.
Capturing them would enable Republicans to redraw their states’ congressional districts in order to favor their candidates.
(p 242)

To implement [REDMAP, Gillespie] took over the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) …
By the end of 2010, with the help of million-dollar donations from the tobacco companies Altria and Reynolds, as well as huge donations from Walmart, the pharmaceutical industry, and rich private donors like those at the Koch summit, the RSLC would have $30 million, three times its Democratic counterpart.
(p 243)

[In successive] midterm losses in 2010 and 2014 … the Democrats [lost] more than 900 [state] legislative seats and 11 governorships …
(p 337)

[In 2010 alone, Republicans] won control of both the legislature and the governor’s office in 21 states; the Democrats had similar one-party rule in only 11.
The map looked red, with small islands of blue.

As a consequence of their gains, Republicans now had four times as many districts to gerrymander as the Democrats.
By creating reliably safe seats, they could build a firewall protecting the Republican control of Congress for the next decade.

Clearly, REDMAP’s payoff for a relatively modest investment was impressive. …
Newly Republican states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and North Carolina soon became breeding grounds for attacks on Obama’s core agenda.
They undermined his policies on health care, abortion, gay rights, voting rights, immigration, the environment, guns, and labor.
(p 266)

Welcome to Paradise: Art Pope's Libertarian Utopia

[By packing] minority voters into three districts that already had a high concentration of African-American voters, [Republican operatives in North Carolina] left more of the surrounding territory white and Republican, and the Democrats in those areas stranded.
In effect, the new [electoral] map had resegregated the state into congressional districts in which minority voters could dominate their own neighborhoods but were unlikely to see their party gain majority power in the state.
(p 335)

[As a consequence,] despite getting fewer votes than the Democrats [in 2012, the Republicans] won more congressional seats.
The same pattern was repeated in enough other states that the Republicans were able to hold on to the House of Representatives, despite a bigger 2012 turnout nationwide for [the] Democrats.
(p 333)

[2012 saw the Republicans win] the governorship and veto-proof majorities in both houses of the general assembly.
It was the first time since Reconstruction that the Republican Party had complete control of the state’s government.
(p 337)

[Within months] they enacted conservative policies that [libertarian] think tanks had been incubating for years …
  • [slashing] taxes on corporations and the wealthy while cutting benefits and services for the middle class and the poor …
  • [gutting] environmental programs,
  • sharply limited women’s access to abortion,
  • [backing] a constitutional ban on gay marriage, …
  • [legalizing] concealed guns in bars and on playgrounds and school campuses …
  • [erecting] cumbersome new bureaucratic barriers to voting … designed to discourage poor and minority voters …
  • [eliminating] the earned-income tax credit for low-income workers …
  • [repealing] North Carolina’s estate tax …
  • [drastically cutting] unemployment benefits, …
  • [denying] free health care to 500,000 uninsured low-income residents [at an estimated cost of] between 455 and 1,145 lives a year
  • [authorizing] vouchers for private schools while [squeezing] the public school [budgets,]
  • [eliminating] teachers’ assistants,
  • [reducing] teacher pay
  • [abolishing] incentives for teachers to earn higher degrees …
  • [reducing] funding for a successful program for at-risk preschoolers, [and]
  • [imposing a $414 million (16%) cut in university funding that was] projected to cause tuition hikes, faculty layoffs, and fewer scholarships …
At the same time [as Art Pope’s] network fought to cut university budgets, he offered to privately fund academic programs in subjects he favored, like Western civilization and free-market economics.
(pp 339-41)

Republicans in the state senate passed a bill requiring North Carolina’s high school students to study conservative principles as part of American history in order to graduate in 2015.
(p 342)
[Art Pope] played an active role in the 2010 redistricting of North Carolina's electoral map as a pro bono legal adviser during the process.
The redistricting effort assisted in shifting the state's US House delegation from 7-6 Democratic to 9-4 in favor of Republicans.
Pope has been a long time supporter of legislation to establish an independent nonpartisan redistricting commission. …
After his selection as [Republican] Governor Pat McCrory's budget director, Pope resigned his positions as a member of the board of directors of Americans for Prosperity …
(19 July 2017)

Pippa Norris & Max Grömping:
The issue of gerrymandered has been consistently regarded by experts as the worst aspect of US voting procedures …
In the [Perceptions of Electoral Integrity Index] sub-dimension of ‘district boundaries’ – consisting of items such as 'Boundaries favored incumbents', or 'Boundaries were impartial' – North Carolina and Wisconsin rank lowest, with scores of 7 and 8, respectively.
On the other hand, even the top-ranked states (New Mexico, Maine, and Hawai’i) received scores not exceeding the low 60s.
The only outlier is Iowa, which was rated by the surveyed experts with a 73 out of 100 in the dimension of district boundaries. …
[The] reform of state electoral laws was also widely discussed [during the 2016] campaign, following the passage of several restrictive voting and registration procedures which were subsequently struck down by the courts, such as in North Carolina.
( Populist Threats to Electoral Integrity: The Year in Elections, 2016-2017, The Electoral Integrity Project, 2017, p 8)

Adriano Udani & David Kimball [Department of Political Science, University of Missouri, St Louis]:
Republican elites are tapping into the growing US anger toward immigrants — and are deploying that as a reason to restrict voting.
Tightened voting laws depresses turnout among voters of color, who tend to vote for Democrats. …
Proponents of voter identification requirements and other limitations on voting rights will likely exploit growing US ethnocentrism to get those new rules through.
(Who believes in voter fraud? Americans who are hostile to immigrants, The Washington Post, 1 February 2017)

Jane Mayer (1955):
The Pope fortune has always depended on [minimum wage workers and] low-income patrons. …
[Variety Wholesalers] favors a specific demographic:
  • neighborhoods with median incomes of less than $40,000 and
  • a population that is at least 25% African-American.
(State for Sale, The New Yorker, 10 October 2011)

Charles & David Koch

[The Koch governance strategy envisioned a] three-phase takeover of American politics.

  1. The first phase required an “investment” in intellectuals whose ideas would serve as the “raw products.”
  2. The second required an investment in think tanks that would turn the ideas into marketable policies.
  3. And the third phase required the subsidization of “citizens” groups that would, along with “special interests,” pressure elected officials to implement the policies.

It was in essence a libertarian [policy] production line, waiting only to be bought, assembled, and switched on.
(p 142)

The aim of the [Institute of Humane Studies at George Mason University] was to cultivate and subsidize … the next [generation of] libertarian scholars.
Anxious at one point that the war of ideas was proceeding too slowly, Charles reportedly demanded better metrics with which to monitor students’ political views.
[Applicants’] essays had to be run through computers in order to count the number of times they mentioned the free-market icons Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman.
Students were tested at the beginning and the end of each week for ideological improvement.
The institute also housed the Charles G Koch summer internship program, a paid fellowship placing students who shared the Kochs’ views in like-minded nonprofit groups, where they could join the libertarian network.
(p 150)

By 2015, the Charles Koch Foundation was subsidizing pro-business, antiregulatory, and antitax programs in 307 different institutions of higher education in America and had plans to expand into 18 more. …
  • [At Brown University they funded] faculty research and postdoctoral candidates in such topics as why bank deregulation is good for the poor.
  • At [the cash strapped] West Virginia University, [the] foundation required the school to give it a say over the professors it funded …
    [One of the Koch approved professors,] Russell Sobel, edited a 2007 book called Unleashing Capitalism: Why Prosperity Stops at the West Virginia Border and How to Fix It, arguing that mine safety and clean water regulations only hurt workers.
    “Are workers really better off being safer but making less income?” it asked.
(p 155)

[In 1980] David Koch ran for vice president of the United States on the Libertarian Party ticket …
(p 3)

[Running as a candidate allowed him to] lavish as much of his personal fortune as he wished on the campaign rather than being limited by the $1,000 donation cap. …
[As] its primary source of funds [he] spent more than $2 million on the effort, just short of 60% of the campaign’s entire budget. …

The party’s platform … called for
  • the repeal of all campaign-finance laws and the abolition of the Federal Election Commission …
  • the abolition of all government health-care programs, including Medicaid and Medicare …
  • [the lifting of] all income and corporate taxes, including capital gains taxes, and … for an end to the prosecution of tax evaders …
  • the abolition … of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, the FBI, and the CIA …
  • the abolition of “any laws” impeding employment — [including] minimum wage and child labor laws [— along with] public schools [and] the “compulsory” education of children …
  • [the abolition of] the Food and Drug Administration, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, seat belt laws, and all forms of welfare for the poor.
The platform was, in short, an effort to repeal virtually every major [progressive] reform passed during the twentieth century.
In the view of the Kochs and other members of the Libertarian Party, government should be reduced to a skeletal function: the protection of individual and property rights.

That November, the Libertarian ticket received only 1% of the vote.
(p 57-8)

[In] 1930, there were approximately two hundred private foundations [in the United States.]
[By] 2013, there were over a hundred thousand … with assets of over $800 billion.
These peculiarly American organizations, run with little transparency or accountability to either voters or consumers yet publicly subsidized by [inheritance] tax breaks …
(p 71)

[These] foundations have very few legal restrictions.
They are required to donate at least 5% of their assets every year to public charities — referred to as “nonprofit” organizations.
In exchange, the donors are granted deductions, enabling them to reduce their income taxes dramatically.
This arrangement enables the wealthy to simultaneously receive generous tax subsidies and use their foundations to impact society as they please.
(p 69-70)

One measure of the [conservative] movement’s impact was that starting in 1973, and for successive decades afterward, the public’s trust in government continually sank.
If there was a single unified message pushed by those financing the conservative movement, it was that government rather than business was America’s problem.
By the early 1980s, the reversal in public opinion was so significant that Americans’ distrust of government for the first time surpassed their distrust of business.
(p 89)

[When Ronald] Reagan, a movement conservative, overwhelmingly defeated Carter [in 1980, he] embraced the Heritage Foundation’s phone-book-sized policy playbook, Mandate for Leadership, and distributed a copy of it to every member of Congress.
His administration soon delivered [on 61% of the Heritage Foundation's] 1,270 specific policy proposals. …

[Reagan] slashed corporate and individual tax rates, particularly helping the wealthy.
Between 1981 and 1986, the top income tax rate was cut from 70% to 28%.
Meanwhile, taxes on the bottom four-fifths of earners rose.
Economic inequality, which had flatlined, began to climb.
[He also] abolished the economic controls on oil and gas [including] taxes on oil profits.
Koch Industries’ profits … skyrocketed.
(p 91)


[Citizens for a Sound Economy was established by the Kochs in 1984 as a fake grassroots non-profit organization.]
[Microsoft] reportedly made a contribution to the foundation set up by Citizens for a Sound Economy that was aimed at reducing the Justice Department’s antitrust work.
(p 160)

In 1990, the organization created a spin-off, Citizens for the Environment, which called acid rain and other environmental problems “myths.” …
In 1993, it waged a successful assault on Clinton’s proposed tax on energy, which would have taxed fossil fuel use but exempted renewable energy sources. …
Next, it went after his proposed tax increase on high earners.
According to The Wall Street Journal [the] CSE’s ads were deeply misleading, focusing on owners of car washes and other mom-and-pop small businesses, implying that the tax was aimed at the middle class when in fact it would affect only the wealthiest 4%.
(p 161)

In 1997 … the EPA moved to reduce surface ozone, a form of air pollution caused, in part, by emissions from oil refineries.
Susan Dudley, … a top official at the Mercatus Center [and later Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Office of Management and Budget under George W Bush,] came up with a novel criticism of the proposed rule.
The EPA, she argued, had not taken into account that by blocking the sun, smog cut down on cases of skin cancer.
She claimed that if pollution were controlled, it would cause up to eleven thousand additional cases of skin cancer each year. …
[However, on appeal the Supreme Court ruled unanimously] that the Clean Air Act’s standards are absolute and not subject to cost-benefit analysis.
(p 153-4)

[In 2003 Citizen's for a Sound Economy split into American's for Prosperity and FreedomWorks due to internal conflicts.]
[In 2009 it was FreedomWorks, along with its billionaire backers, that] gave the nascent Tea Party movement organization and political direction, without which it might have frittered away like the Occupy movement.
(p 182)

FreedomWorks, [a] tax-exempt organization quietly cemented a deal with Glenn Beck, the incendiary right-wing Fox News television host who at the time was a Tea Party superstar.
For an annual payment that eventually topped $1 million, Beck read “embedded content” written by the FreedomWorks staff.
They told him what to say on the air, and he blended the promotional material seamlessly into his monologue, making it sound as if it were his own opinion.
The arrangement was described on FreedomWorks’ tax disclosures as “advertising services.”
(p 183, emphasis added)

The presidential candidacy of the environmental activist Al Gore in 2000 posed an obvious threat to the fossil fuel industry.
That election cycle, Koch Industries and its employees disbursed over $800,000 in support of his opponent George W Bush and other Republicans.
Koch Industries’ political action committee was spending more on federal campaigns than any other oil and gas company, including ExxonMobil.
The company’s expenditures on Washington lobbying expanded more than twenty-fold from 2004 to 2008, reaching $20 million.
(p 210)

In 2004, Democratic-aligned outside groups spent $185 million — more than twice what the Republican outside groups spent — in a failed effort to defeat George W Bush’s reelection. …
With the help of Democratic operatives, [George Soros] funneled more than $27 million into the outside spending vehicle of choice that year, known as 527 groups.
It was the same year that Republicans used the same mechanism to fund the “Swift Boat” attacks on John Kerry. …
The Federal Election Commission ruled that the gargantuan outside spending schemes violated campaign-finance laws and imposed hefty fines on both the Democratic and the Republican perpetrators.
Afterward, Soros remained active in ideological philanthropy, spending hundreds of millions to support a network of human rights and civil liberties groups, but he largely withdrew from spectacular campaign contributions.
(p 236)

The George W Bush years … proved a bonanza for the fossil fuel industry …
Bush had vowed during the campaign to act on climate change by limiting greenhouse gas emissions, but once in office Cheney countermanded him. …
[He] shifted the administration’s position to arguing that the science on global warming was “inconclusive,” requiring “more scientific inquiry.”

[Cheney's] 2005 energy bill … offered enormous subsidies and tax breaks for fossil-fuel-intensive companies.
[He] used his influence to exempt [fracking] from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act, over objections from the Environmental Protection Agency.
The fracking industry boomed. …
Cheney’s former company Halliburton also became a major player in the fracking industry, illustrating that free-market advocates greatly benefited from government favors.

In all, the Bush energy act contained some $6 billion in oil and gas subsidies and $9 billion in coal subsidies.
[Meanwhile, the] Kochs … took full advantage of the special tax credits and subsidies available to the oil, ethanol, and pipeline business, among other areas of commerce in which they were engaged.
In addition, their companies benefited from nearly $100 million in government contracts in the decade after 2000 …
(pp 212-3)

In 2010, Americans for Prosperity, [FreedomWorks and American Majority] encouraged members to provoke Democratic candidates into on-camera outbursts.
Some gave instructions on how to do it.
In time, the practice spread to liberal groups too.
(p 260)

[Following the 2010 midterms, the victorious Republicans] stocked the [House Energy and Commerce Committee] with oil industry advocates, many of whom owed huge campaign debts to the Kochs.
Koch Industries PAC was the single largest oil and gas industry donor to members of the panel, outspending even ExxonMobil.
It had donated to 22 of the committee’s 31 Republican members and 5 of its Democratic members …
In addition, 5 out of the 6 Republican freshmen on the committee had received “outside” support from Americans for Prosperity. …

The “No Climate Tax” pledge was invented by Americans for Prosperity in 2008 when the Supreme Court cleared the way for the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases …
By the start of the legislative session in 2011, fully 156 members of Congress had signed the … pledge.
Many returning members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee had already taken the pledge, and of the 12 new Republicans on the panel 9 were signatories, including 5 of the 6 freshmen.
(pp 272-3)

Citizen's United: Corporate Free Speech — The civil rights of a legal fiction

On January 21, 2010, the [Supreme] Court announced its 5–4 decision in the Citizens United case, overturning a century of restrictions banning corporations and unions from spending all they wanted to elect candidates.
(p 227)

In striking down the existing campaign-finance laws, the courts eviscerated a century of reform.
After a series of campaign scandals involving secret donations from the newly rich industrial barons in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Progressives had passed laws limiting spending in order to protect the democratic process from corruption.
The laws were meant to safeguard political equality at a time of growing economic inequality.
Reformers had seen the concentration of wealth in the hands of oil, steel, finance, and railroad magnates as threatening the democratic equilibrium. …
In a growing backlash to the corruption, at President Theodore Roosevelt’s behest, Congress passed the Tillman Act in 1907, which banned corporate contributions to federal candidates and political committees.
Later scandals resulted in further restrictions limiting spending by unions and the size of individual contributions, and requiring public disclosure.
By overturning many of these restrictions, the Citizens United decision was in many respects a return to the Gilded Age.
(p 229)

While polls consistently showed that large majorities of the American public — both Republicans and Democrats — favored strict spending limits, the key challenges that led to dismantling the laws were initiated by an extraordinarily rich minority: the Kochs and their clique of ultra-wealthy conservative activists.
(p 237)

Money Talks: One Dollar, One Vote

(Federal form 990 filings, 2009-13)

Charles & David Koch

(501c3s: Think Tanks, Academia, Policy)
Charles G Koch FoundationRichard Fink (President)$77.6M
Claude R Lambe FoundationRichard Fink (President)$8.3M
Knowledge & Progress FundRichard Fink (President)$2.0M

Top 20 Recipients
George Mason University (Mercatus Center)$28.9M
Institute for Humane Studies (George Mason University)$15.3M
Charles Koch Institute$2.8M
Donors TrustWhitney Ball (Founder)$2.1M
The Heritage FoundationEdwin Feulner (President)$2.0M
Florida State University$1.6M
American Enterprise InstituteArthur Brooks (President)$1.6M
Bill of Rights Institute$1.6M
Federalist Society$1.2M
Manhattan Institute for Policy ResearchPaul Singer (Chairman, Board of Trustees)$1.0M
Clemson University$1.0M
University of Arizona$961K
West Virginia University$873K
Utah State University$815K
Troy University$804K
Liberty Source$770K
Jack Miller Center$752K
American Legislative Exchange CouncilPaul Weyrich (Founder)$671K
Americans For ProsperityTim Phillips (President)$627K
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education$580K

Anonymous Donors

(501c4s & 501c6s: Political and Issue Spending)
Freedom PartnersMarc Short, Alan Cobb, Wayne Gable &
Richard Ribbentrop
American Encore (Center to Protect Patient's Rights)Sean Nobel (Executive Director)$247.9M
TC4 TrustMichael Hartz$38.8.7M

Top 20 Recipients
American Future Fund$76.8M
Americans For ProsperityTim Phillips (President)$51.1M
60 Plus Association$37.7M
Americans for Responsible Leadership$27.9M
Public Notice$22.2M
Generation Opportunity (Targets young people)$15.1M
American Commitment$12.9M
Center for Shared Services$11.9M
Concerned Women for America$11.4M
Family Policy Alliance (CitizenLink) / Evangchr4 Trust$10.3M
Libre Initiative (Targets latinos)$7.2M
Concerned Veterans for America$7.2M
Americans for Limited GovernmentHoward Rich (Founder)$7.1M
Americans for Tax ReformGrover Norquist (Founder & President)$5.3M
National Rifle Association$6.6M
Americans for Job Security$4.9M
Coalition to Protect Patients' Rights$4.1M
Public Engagement Group Trust$3.4M
National Federation of Independent Businesses and related groups
(Funding conduit for the Supreme Court challenges to Obamacare)

[The] State Policy Network, a national coalition of conservative state-based think tanks, [was established in 1992 by Thomas Roe.]
By 2012, the network had 64 separate think tanks turning out cookie-cutter-like policy papers, including at least one hub in every state.
(p 345)

Adding clout to the Right’s reach at the state level was the American Legislative Exchange Council. …
Critics called it a conservative corporate “bill mill.”
Thousands of businesses and trade groups paid expensive dues to attend closed-door conferences with local officials during which they drafted model legislation that state legislators subsequently introduced as their own.
On average, ALEC produced about a thousand new bills a year, some 200 of which became state law.
The State Policy Network’s think tanks, some 29 of which were members of ALEC, provided legislative research. …
In 2013 alone, it produced some 70 bills aimed at impeding government support for alternative, renewable energy programs.
(p 346)

John Olin (1892 – 1982)

Between 1958 and 1966, [the Olin Foundation] secretly served as a bank for the Central Intelligence Agency.
During these eight years, the CIA laundered $1.95 million through the foundation. …
Many of the government funds went to anti-Communist intellectuals and publications.
But in 1967, the press exposed the covert propaganda operation, triggering a political furor and causing the CIA to fold the program.
(p 104)

The Olin Foundation’s most significant beachheads [in academia] were established in America’s law schools, where it … underwrote 83% of the costs for all Law and Economics programs in American law schools between the years of 1985 and 1989. …
Law and Economics stresses the need to analyze laws, including government regulations, not just for their fairness but also for their economic impact.
Its proponents describe it in apolitical terms as bringing “efficiency” and “clarity” to the law, rather than relying on fuzzy, hard-to-quantify concepts like social justice.
(p 107)

[In 1993] the Olin Foundation was paying students thousands of dollars to take classes in Law and Economics at Georgetown Law School and to attend workshops on the subject at Columbia Law School. …

Henry Manne (1928 – 2015), who had become dean of the George Mason University School of Law in Virginia, [organized seminars that] treated judges to two-week-long, all-expenses-paid immersion training in Law and Economics usually in luxurious settings like the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Florida.
(p 109)

Within a few years, 660 judges had gone on these junkets, some, like the US Court of Appeals judge and unconfirmed Supreme Court nominee Douglas Ginsburg, many times.
By one count, 40% of the federal judiciary participated, including the future Supreme Court justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Clarence Thomas. …

[The] Olin Foundation [also] provided crucial start-up funds for the Federalist Society, a powerful organization for conservative law students founded in 1982.
With $5.5 million from the Olin Foundation, as well as large donations from foundations tied to Scaife, the Kochs, and other conservative legacies, the Federalist Society grew … into a powerful professional network of 42,000 right-leaning lawyers, with 150 law school campus chapters and about 75 lawyers’ groups nationally.
All of the conservative justices on the Supreme Court are members, as are the former vice president Dick Cheney, the former attorneys general Edwin Meese and John Ashcroft, and numerous members of the federal bench.
(p 110)

John M Olin died in 1982 at the age of eighty-nine, but after his death his foundation became even more robust. …
The funds were well invested, growing to some $370 million in all before the foundation spent it down and closed its doors in 2005.
Olin had directed his foundation to shut down during the lifetime of the trustees for fear that it would fall into the hands of liberals, as he believed the Ford Foundation had tragically done. …

[In the late 80's] the Olin Foundation made a key $25,000 investment of its own in an unknown writer named Charles Murray (1943), funding a grant at the Manhattan Institute that would support a book he was writing that attacked liberal welfare policies. …
[The Heritage Foundation] placed an antiwelfare piece by Murray on the op-ed page of The Wall Street Journal.
This sparked a grant from the Olin Foundation that enabled him to work full-time on what became his pathbreaking 1984 book, Losing Ground [which] blamed government programs for creating a culture of dependence among the poor.
Critics said it overlooked macroeconomic issues over which the poor had no control, and academics and journalists were split, with several challenging Murray’s scholarship.
Nonetheless, with ample funding from Olin and other conservative foundations, Murray succeeded in shifting the debate over America’s poor from society’s shortcomings to their own.
(p 111)

[Even Bill Clinton] later embraced his ideas, calling Murray’s analysis “essentially right” and incorporating many of his prescriptions, including work requirements and the end to aid as an entitlement, in his 1996 welfare reform bill.
(p 112)

[Murray went on, in 1994, to co-author] The Bell Curve, which correlated race and low IQ scores to argue that blacks were less likely than whites to join the “cognitive elite,” and was loudly and convincingly discredited.
The Manhattan Institute fired Murray over the controversial project.
(p 113)

In 1998, Brooksley Born, chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission [CFTC,] warned that the lucrative but risky derivatives market needed more government oversight.
But [Phil Gramm, the Republican Senator for Texas] who chaired the Senate Banking Committee, ignored such warnings, crafting a deregulatory bill made to order for Enron and Koch, called the Commodity Futures Modernization Act.
Despite Born’s warning, the Clinton administration embraced the exemptions too, swayed by Wall Street pressure.

[Phil Gramm's wife, Wendy Gramm, was Director of the CFTC under Ronald Reagan from 1988 to 1993.]
[After] resigned from the CFTC and [she] took a seat on the Enron Board of Directors and served on its Audit Committee. …
[After Enron collapsed, Gramm and other directors] agreed to a 168 million dollar settlement in a suit led by the University of California.
As part of that settlement, the directors agreed to collectively pay $13 million to settle claims of insider trading.
(2 July 2017)

George W Bush (1946):
I love [Ken Lay (1942 – 2006). …]
When I’m president, I plan to run the government like a CEO runs a country.
[And] Ken Lay and Enron are a model of how I’ll do that.

Kevin Phillips [Former Republican Strategist]:
[The alliance between the Bush family and Ken Lay had] no precedent.
[It was] the most important major relationship [between] a presidential family and a single corporation in American history.

Alex Gibney (1953):
[Shortly before Enron collapsed in 2001] Lou Pai flew away from Enron with $250 million …
[The] divisions he left behind lost a total of nearly $1 billion …
[He later] became the second largest land owner in Colorado [and was never charged with wrongdoing. …]
Enron's top executives cashed in $116 million in stock [on top of bonuses totaling $55 million.]
20,000 employees lost their jobs and medical insurance.
Average severance pay: $4,500.
Employees lost $1.2 billion in retirement funds.
Retirees lost $2 billion in pension funds.
(Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, 2005)

In the mid-1990s, [Wendy Gramm] became the head of Mercatus’s Regulatory Studies Program [at George Mason University …]
There, she pushed Congress to support what came to be known as the Enron Loophole, exempting the type of energy derivatives from which Enron profited from regulatory oversight.
Both Enron and Koch Industries, which also was a major trader of derivatives, lobbied desperately for the loophole.
Koch [argued that] there was no need for government policing because corporations’ concern for their reputations would cause them to self-regulate.
(p 154)

Lynde & Harry Bradley

[Between 1985 and 2000 the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation gave] away $280 million to [conservative causes. …]
At least two-thirds of its grants … financed conservative intellectual activity.
It paid for:
  • some 600 graduate and postgraduate fellowships,
  • right-wing think tanks,
  • conservative journals,
  • activists fighting Communism abroad, and
  • its own publishing house, Encounter Books.
[The] foundation gave both Harvard and Yale $5.5 million …
It was an activist force on the secondary-school level, too.
The Bradley Foundation virtually drove the early national “school choice” movement, waging an all-out assault on teachers’ unions and traditional public schools.
In an effort to “wean” Americans from government, the foundation militated for parents to be able to use public funds to send their children to private and parochial schools.
(p 113)

(Jane Mayer, Dark Money, Doubleday, 2016)

Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970)

[Private economic] power within a State … can influence
  • [the] law by corruption and
  • public opinion by propaganda.
It can put politicians under obligations which interfere with their freedom.
It can threaten to cause a financial crisis.
But there are very definite limits to what it can achieve. …

[Where] the issue is simple and public opinion is definite, the plutocracy is powerless …
[Where] public opinion is undecided, or baffled by the complexity of the issue, the plutocracy can secure a desired political result. …

[The plutocracy has hitherto] been unable to
  • introduce Asiatic labour in California or Australia, except in [the] early days in small numbers. …
  • destroy trade unionism …
  • avoid heavy taxation of the rich [or]
  • prevent socialist propaganda. …

[The trade unions, for their part,] have failed … to keep in power governments which they liked but which a majority of the nation distrusted.

[The] power of economic organisations to influence political decisions in a democracy is limited by public opinion, which, on many important issues, refuses to be swayed even by very intensive propaganda.
Democracy, where it exists, has more reality than many opponents of capitalism are willing to admit.

(Power: A New Social Analysis, 1938, pp 85-6, emphasis added)