Orwell Watch: More Reengineering of Values via Koch Funded “Deep Lobbying”

The 40th anniversary of the Powell memo is this Tuesday, August 23. Louis Powell’s document articulated a vision and major elements of a plan for how major corporations would reshape social values to produce a milieu more conducive to their interests. As Bill Black wrote:

He issued a clarion call for corporations to mobilize their economic power to further their economic interests by ensuring that corporations dominated every influential and powerful American institution. Lewis Powell’s call was answered by the CEOs who funded the creation of Cato, Heritage, and hundreds of other movement centers.

The result was arguably the most successful proselytization in history. And conservatives are not resting on their laurels. One ongoing effort is to cement right wing values by embedding them in the educational process. As we pointed out in ECONNED and here, that strategy reaped enormous rewards in the law arena. The once fringe law and economics movement, which sought to embed the ideas of neoclassical economics in the legal discipline, is now mainstream, and has served the big businesses who funded this push very well.

The Koch brothers are backing a push deeper into the educational process. One example is the firestorm that erupted over a $1.5 million donation to Florida State University’s economics department. While funding faculty chairs is hardly unusual, the university makes its own appointment decisions. Not here, though. The Kochs trampled over principles of academic freedom in their program on “political economy and free enterprise.” Per the St. Petersburg Times:

Under the agreement with the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, however, faculty only retain the illusion of control. The contract specifies that an advisory committee appointed by Koch decides which candidates should be considered. The foundation can also withdraw its funding if it’s not happy with the faculty’s choice or if the hires don’t meet “objectives” set by Koch during annual evaluations.

David W. Rasmussen, dean of the College of Social Sciences, defended the deal, initiated by an FSU graduate working for Koch. During the first round of hiring in 2009, Koch rejected nearly 60 percent of the faculty’s suggestions but ultimately agreed on two candidates. Although the deal was signed in 2008 with little public controversy, the issue revived last week when two FSU professors — one retired, one active — criticized the contract in the Tallahassee Democrat as an affront to academic freedom.

The Orwellian twist to all of this is the repurposing of the word “freedom”. “Freedom” is historically a political idea: freedom from oppression. The idea of economic freedom as promoted by libertarians and Chicago School economists, is ultimately hostile to political freedom. Chile under Pinochet, which was a Chicago School experiment, was proof: as one survivor said, “People died so markets could be free.” The Citizens United version of economic freedom means that businessmen can buy political influence with no restrictions. We can see how well that is working out in the US. The level of corruption has gone from being tolerable to rampant in a remarkably short period of time. By contrast, in Australia, a few requirements that are impossible to implement here, like prohibiting paid political ads on TV and having voting be mandatory, has put a damper on influence peddling.

Now that the Kochs have come under more scrutiny, they’ve gotten stealthier in how they proceed. The Tucson Weekly described how the Kochs were funding a “Freedom Center” in the Philosophy Department (!) at the University of Arizona. Unlike the Florida State University initiative, the new center is headed by a 15 year faculty member who is firmly libertarian, which presumably takes care of the need for the Kochs to hover over their baby and make sure it hews to their ideology. In fact, this “center” has the potential to become a right wing think tank under university auspices, which would be a new, ugly beast.

While the article quotes some sources that insist that the new center will be independent, they are all people who are direct beneficiaries, such as the head of the center and the dean of the college who presumably gains in stature from securing more funding. Other faculty members were skeptical:

“I think it’s problematic for academics, and creates potential conflicts of interest,” says David Gibbs, a professor of history and government in the UA’s Political Science Department….

[H]e sees it as “deep lobbying,” or an attempt to place the seal of academic legitimacy on their extremist libertarian views.

“When you think of lobbying,” he says, “you think of a lobbyist coming in to twist a congressman’s arm over a particular piece of legislation. But deep lobbying is where you influence the whole climate of opinion. And that’s what is going on here.

“It’s a very long-term project,” Gibbs says. “Since the 1970s, a lot of rich individuals have been trying with great success to shift the climate of opinion radically to the right. The Koch brothers, of course, have become famous for doing that. There’s really nothing comparable on the left.”

That dovetails perfectly with the Freedom Center, which Gibbs labels “a libertarian think-tank with window dressing.”…

Regardless of who donates what, some find the cash-strapped university’s increasing reliance on outside funding troublesome. Among them is Rachana Kamtekar, an associate UA philosophy professor with no ties to the Freedom Center. “It’s not always going to be possible to ensure that the sources of money are clean,” Kamtekar says. “And that’s the problem with big money. A lot of it is not clean.”….

“The use of the money here is something that I think poses serious problems,” he [Gibbs] says. “In academics in general, and especially in philosophy, debates are supposed to be decided on the merits—that the stronger argument, the one with more weight and logic behind it, should prevail. But what’s going on here has nothing to do with the quality of argument.

“This has to do with money,” he says. “And in my view, that poses very serious problems for the integrity of scholarship.”

Oscar Wilde described a cynic as someone who knew the price of everything and the value of nothing. And as pretty much everything in American society now seems to have a price on it, it looks like we may have perilous little of value left.

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  1. Middle Seaman

    Libertarians hold individual freedom as the utmost goals above the state or other entities. The Koch brother, and most right wingers, are not libertarians; they put the company and capital above individuals; they impose on individuals limits of expression, limits of association and limits on voting.

    Consider the events in Wisconsin since the 2010. Koch money sought to limit voting, intervening in the rights of Democrats to associate and, above all the freedom of workers to defend their livelihood.

    It isn’t libertarianism; it’s Mussolini fascism.

    1. Goin' South

      The Kochs are “propertarians.” Anarchist Murray Bookchin applied that appellation to the Randians back in the 70s and contrasted it with “libertarians” who are anarchists who want to eliminate both the State and private ownership of the means of production and distribution.

      With the Kochs, it’s about all that property they inherited and want to continue hoarding. It’s definitely not about our liberty.

      1. Nathanael

        Yeah. They’re really very stupid people, though, because they’ve quite successfully eliminated the only thing which retains their property rights: general respect for the system.

        Fat lot of good their scheme will do when people just don’t give a damn any more — when the courts, the police, the schools, the whole lot of it has lost general respect. You can’t manufacture respect. Next step, torches and pitchforks; and sure, they may try to crack down, but they will still have lost what they really cared about as their houses and bodies burn.

        But perhaps they were just incapable of thinking long-term. The destruction of the society has profited them very well for about 50 years. Within the next 50 years, it will kill them and their families. But perhaps these sociopaths simply have never, ever been able to think that far ahead. Inability to be deterred by long-term consequences is the characteristic mental defect of psychopathy.

    2. Heisenberg


      Libertarianism isn’t anarchy, corporate or otherwise but linking it to political bribery is the tired ploy of shock jocks. I can’t tell if Yves is throwing that in to be provocative or out of ignorance.

      1. dead cat

        Presumably she means what she says. In the past she’s pointed out a weakness of libertarianism: that unalloyed liberty for everyone and everything lets power imbalances compound. So it tends to be convenient for large bureaucratic corporate interests with their extra money and power. That’s how the movement gets corrupted. So the Kochs and the banks and the war profiteers can push you around even better than the government can.

      2. Paul Tioxon

        The father of the libertarian Koch brothers, was one of the 12 founding members of the John Birch Society. But don’t take my word for it, here is a celebration of Fred Koch, the founder Koch Industries and the Birchers. From the New American, their own site:


        Also, here is a list of front organizations as well as right wing fronts for wealthy ruling elites overall, that are heavily funded by Koch.


    3. Foppe

      Huh? Mussolini’s fascism existed in a country with very strong social bonds everywhere. Libertarians try to divide everyone so that nobody can organize against them, and by trying to delegitimate all forms of organization at the state level (I’m sure they love Taft-Hartley and Right-to-work legislation). There is a big difference between these two modes of organization.
      Now to answer your second charge: i’m sure that there are a few libertarians stupid enough to believe that politics and economics will somehow cease to play a role in a “truly libertarian world”, but do you really believe that?

    4. JamesW

      Excellent comments, and what many may not be aware of is that FSU (along with University of Maryland) has the econ department which has done the pivotal research in tax avoidance by US corporations.

      An important point not to be overlooked……

  2. LeeAnne

    Under the crony capitalist system we have now, anyone with enough money and lower brain-high energy can corrupt any institution, and have.

    Woe to these people when things fall apart as they are bound to. The people on the receiving end of this largesse do not know how to DO anything. When they are outnumbered, as in; a war for survival -fugget about it.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      “Woe to these people . . . ” Yes! Speaking of woe, Jesus Christ’s warnings of doom were clearest and most dire when addressed to the theocratic “vipers” and banksters of his time, evven underscored with a whip. And most of these forewarnings, conspicuously ignored by our contemporary Pharisees and moneychangers, are clear enough for a loud amen. Here, to propangandists for profit:

      Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. So watch yourselves.

      Indeed. Millstones are quite heavy, typically weighing more than a team of oxen, making it rather difficult to tread water.

    2. Pete

      I’d think that these folks would have to worry about frontier justice more than anything. There are a lot of people that would just love to death penalty them in a environment of chaos and upheaval. Pray that we never devolve to that level.

      1. Nathanael

        Indeed. I’m pretty sure the US *will* get to that point, however, because the forces of sanity seem to be so small and so outnumbered. Some other countries, with more sane people with power, may be able to head it off at the pass.

        I just hope we can hunker down and ride out the waves of vigilante executions. The banksters will *not* escape, but a lot of innocent people are gonna get caught in the crossfire.

  3. LeeAnne

    And, BTW, Verizon was the first to exploit 9/11 with their own ‘freedom plan.’

    It was truly sickening. Maybe its gone away?

    1. JamesW

      Excellent point. Also, Microsoft took advantage to quietly lay off around 1,000 employees in Redmond on 9/12/01 — only made the business news about a year later.

  4. pj

    When it comes to donating to education, there should be no “terms”.
    If there are “terms”, the donation should be declined.

    Just one person’s opinion.

  5. tz

    The Kochs are corporatists, not libertarians. Google “Kochtopus”. Murray Rothbard was a true libertarian, and although I disagree with him on a few things he was thrown out of Cato – which he founded – when he actually wanted to act like a libertarian and not a corporatist.


    Just like the Roosevelt institution that is now against Social security, the Kochs take over places that believe in liberty and replace them with the free market profit half of corporate socialism, but seek to prevent even ordinary property right enforcement.

    1. alex

      One of the foremost things a true libertarian would oppose is the limited liability of incorporation.

      Does it make any sense that the government has created and enforces a system where the owners aren’t completely responsible for the debts of the enterprises they own? Wanna ask the Koch Bros. how they feel about increasing our freedom by giving corporate owners unlimited liability?

      1. Fraud Guy

        Excellent point.

        I’d add that true libertarians would not defend our current system of patents, copyrights, and trademarks. These have become, to a very large extent, a system of government-granted franchises that stifle competition. For example, drug companies now seek to extend their exclusivity in manufacturing a drug by claiming that the drug’s warning label is government-protected intellectual property! Disney appropriates Brothers Grimm fairy tales in the public domain then gets Congress to extend its copyright period over the stories when they are about to expire. Ralph Lauren appropriates the word “Polo” as his brand, then successfully claims infringement by Polo Magazine, a publication about the sport that existed before his business.

        1. alex

          Quite right. In fact 19th century libertarians _did_ oppose “intellectual property”, and a number of industrial economies of the 19th century ran quite nicely without a patent system.

          So here’s a litmus test for folks who want to call themselves libertarians: if you do _not_ strongly oppose corporate limited liability and the government granted monopolies euphemistically called “intellectual property rights”, you ain’t the real deal.

          With a platform like that, wanna take a guess how much big money backing “libertarianism” would get?

          1. Anonymous Jones

            Yeah, see, this exposes the fallacy of the entire libertarian project. It’s only a certain kind of liberty that is valued. It’s no different than any other political theory. Every theory is grounded in values that will almost certainly not be shared 100% by your neighbors. It’s in the conflict between values that all these political theories are exposed for what they are, which is complete selfishness (i.e., the hopes for creating a world that rewards only those talents one has and simultaneously ignores the deficiencies one has). They are all BS. Some people benefit from totalitarianism. Some people benefit from propertarianism. Some people benefit by Scandinavian-style welfare states. The people who benefit by one or another are never going to agree that something else is “better”. They’re going to stick with what benefits them the most.

            “Limited liability” is basically an opt-in insurance scheme by the state. No one has to be a corporation. You are not forced into a “limited liability” vehicle. Yes, the state is probably charging too little for this insurance, but saying that you must want to eliminate this insurance as a possibility is certainly not “liberty-enhancing” when viewed from the perspective of those who want the liberty to engage in collective insurance. Why is their liberty disregarded? Or, regarding other decisions, why is the liberty of people who want to start a labor union or a commune totally disregarded? None of this makes sense. It’s completely nuts, sorry.

            I mean, really, the whole thing is incredibly stupid once you start to think about it. Amazing that people can go their entire lives creating edifices of BS in order to prevent themselves from seeing the ludicrousness of the fantasies they have created.

    2. Tao Jonesing

      If Murray Rothbard was a “true libertarian,” then so are the Koch brothers. Have you ever read Rothbard’s confidential memo to the Volker Fund?

      Read it.

      Modern libertarianism, as exemplified by Hayek, Mises, Friedman and Rothbard, is and always has been a corporatist sham. Read The Road From Mont Pelerin as a starting point. The modern libertarian is a neoliberal true believer, they just don’t tend to realize that fact.

    3. Foppe

      iow, Rothbard was kicked out by a more socially successful “libertarian”. See the power at work? By supposing that there will come a time in which people no longer influence each other, and fight for advantage, he dug his own grave.

  6. Michel Delving

    Interesting that Powell’s 1971 memo was written at behest of the Chamber of Commerce.
    Who, back then, would have thought of the Chamber as being so anti-consumer? Nice to see CoC agenda finally exposed.

    “The more things change, the more things stay the same.”
    Bankers followed long established pattern of creating and diseminating dangerous product, foisting it on consumers and investors around the globe, just so they could profit from ensuing destruction.

    Prof. Black brings some good perspective to all the criminal behavior we have witnessed, which far too many have personally experienced. Yves, thank you for this.

    1. MSnDC

      Please read this section of the Powell memo, especially on ‘essential freedoms.’ Powell evidently did not understand how extreme the CoC would become. His views today would be considered left center. Anyway, the leftist reaction he was referring to in his memo was the conservatives initiatives for continual war, assassination of it leaders ( Kennedy,& King )Presently corporatist greed is what we see today. I know of no other time in history which was more immoral except perhaps chattel slavery in the U S.
      “We in America already have moved very far indeed toward some aspects of state socialism, as the needs and complexities of a vast urban society require types of regulation and control that were quite unnecessary in earlier times. In some areas, such regulation and control already have seriously impaired the freedom of both business and labor, and indeed of the public generally. But most of the essential freedoms remain: private ownership, private profit, labor unions, collective bargaining, consumer choice, and a market economy in which competition largely determines price, quality and variety of the goods and services provided the consumer. “

  7. BD

    Libertarians of the world unite!

    Can’t wait for the a** kicking of the Dem and Rep fascists.

    Orwell, indeed.

      1. Nathanael

        Anarchists (real libertarians) wear black.

        Fake libertarians (Rothbard, Koch, etc.) are just fascists. They wear whatever their bosses order them to wear.

  8. PaulArt

    All this makes a solid case for laying down strong ground rules about who can create Thinktanks and who can pump money into academic institutions. Corporate money should be banned from EVERY sphere of Society. For-profit Corporations are founded on the principle of profit – one should start with the null hypothesis that they would only give their money away out of self-interest. Taxation is the only means of ensuring income equity in Society. Every dollar you take away from these selfish and aggrandizing cretins like the Kochs is a dollar they don’t have to corrupt and weaken Society.

  9. Pith Helmet

    The question is not really what they’ve done – although it’s important – but what can be done to counteract their cancerous impact on the body politic?

  10. Malagodi

    “They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. The stalk has no head; it will produce no flour. Were it to yield grain, foreigners would swallow it up.”

    Just as the pursuit of happiness is an endless and empty desire, the glorification of freedom is the worship of slavery.

    How’s that for Orwellian?

  11. john

    this “center” has the potential to become a right wing think tank under university auspices, which would be a new, ugly beast

    That New Yorker article describes one they’d set up at George Mason in the eighties.

    1. Foppe

      Ah, yes. Felix Salmon went to one of their conferences a while back, and Megan McArdle is friends with some of their faculty too. They have a really dumb website up in which Warren’s Two Income Trap was criticized in a way that everyone who’s done middle school mathematics could’ve demolished. (Talking about percentage changes without mentioning absolute amounts, so that he’s arguing something comparable to saying that a 1000% increase is worse than a 33% increase, without noting that a cost change from 1$ to 11$ is also a 1000$ increase, whereas a 33% cost increase — from 10000$ to 13333$ increase — is a smaller percentage gain, but a larger hit on income.) But I guess that’s what passes for right-wing intellectuals.

  12. Jack

    In defense of Florida State, my alma mater, there was plenty of push-back amongst the faculty when this came to light. The deal was signed by the previous university president, and our hope is that we’ve given the new one so much shit about this scandal that he’ll think twice before letting donors make hiring decisions on his watch. FSU’s econ department does suffer from libertarian infestation, but it’s a pretty solid program for a state school, and there are plenty of good, qualified faculty who aren’t wrapped up in pushing the Koch agenda. I don’t think we’re on course to end up as another George Mason.

  13. indio007

    The corporations are people too movement must die soon. It’s the unaccountability that is the true problem. There is no to imprison or hang. Corporations have no morals , conscience or any belief in a future state of rewards and punishments after this life.

    They can not be held to moral obligations which makes them a useful tool for immoral people.

    This needs to stop.

    1. Eureka Springs

      Part of it’s feature is that it can’t die. It must be killed.

      I worry about all the terms tossed out in a post and thread like this.. in the sense of how do “we” put it in terms the masses can grasp, thus honing focus on the killing we so desperately need to manifest? As Hugh always says, it”s a systemic kleptocracy we have… it’s important for many who read like us to know the details, but we have to get the unknowing masses on our side with much simpler (all encompassing) terminology.

      Chicago School economists
      Free markets
      Neoliberal (missing but worth mentioning in this post/discussion)

      But all we have in power now are democrats and republicans, both are hell bent on buy-partisan agreement in nearly all aspects delegated to these terms. Yet most people will not quickly associate them with the kleptocrats in charge now… Both are running on doubling down on this in office next time.

      Just read O and the D’s latest Jobs plan (Yikes!) ANd what the big orande satanic followers are calling victory!


      1. Pete

        How does government create jobs that pay for themselves? First, if it’s a government job then it’s non-value added labor. They don’t produce anything, except perhaps, more hassle and headache, and create more agents who come hither and swarm to eat out our substance.

        How does a payroll tax help in an economy that is 70% consumer spending? You give everyone a cut, which puts more money in their pockets. They proceed, in this consumer economy to go to Best Buy, purchase foreign made products in turn spending that money and sending the bulk of it to either China or Korea. True, a slice of that is markup that shipping and retail take as profits. But then what? Where does the organic, self sustaining growth come from once the television at Best Buy is purchased?

        Third. God knows that our infrastructure needs a desperate overhaul. But how does repairing roads, which faciitates the Wal Mart 18 wheelers trip in with Chinese consumer goods, create sustainable organic growth.

        Seems to me that we’re pissing in the wind here. Without addressing trade reform, we cannot have competitive manufacturing in this nation. Without manufacturing, we cannot produce durable items of tangible worth. Without goods to go along with goods and services we cannot cannot call any of this an “investment” because investments are assumed to be self-liquidating debt. Someone pray tell, show me how another transient injection of consumer purchases of foreign goods going to produce self-liquidation of the debt used to spur such activity?

        Does anyone ever think of this stuff in the media or Washington? Ever?

        1. Procopius

          Excuse me, would you like your eggs with or without Salmonella. The idea that government jobs do not produce any value is insane. You may not like EPA telling you that you can’t pour the residue from your meth lab into the nearest stream, but that is actually valuable to the general society. You may not like building inspectors telling you that your plan to add a fourth story to your existing three story department store will cause the building to collapse, but you will like even less the hundreds of lawsuits that you get when your four-story department store collapses. Teachers, firefighters, police don’t do anything valuable for the community? I think if I were your neighbor I would want to invest in a very good fence.

          1. attempter

            Excuse me, would you like your eggs with or without Salmonella.

            I’d like them without, please. But I don’t understand your non-sequitur. It almost sounds like you’re ignorant enough to think the government food bureaucracies want to help you with that choice rather than hurt you.

            You may want to read up on the history of Wright Eggs and its extremely cordial relationship with federal government “food safety” cadres.


            Meanwhile on the same weekend of yet another jackbooted, guns-drawn raid on the small Rawesome foods collective (which has never once made anyone sick), the government waited meekly on Cargill, waiting obediently to learn what its Master’s dispensation would be regarding tens of millions of pounds of tainted meat.

            Quite a contrast. Anyone who paid attention might think the government doesn’t care about food safety at all, but only about Big Ag’s prerogatives. And the same is true everywhere else. I notice you dodged the example of Walmartization as nothing but government policy. (Walmart as it’s developed could certainly never have existed as a “free market” phenomenon.)

            As for teachers, firefighters, community policing (as opposed to paramilitary repression cadres), what causes you to think those are necessarily “government” (or else corporate) jobs? Why can’t they be community jobs?

            News flash: The vast majority of the real work is already done in the core economy, what’s dismissively called the “informal” economy, and outside both establishment sectors, private and “public”.

        2. Doug Terpstra

          How does government create jobs that pay for themselves? First, if it’s a government job then it’s non-value added labor.

          That may be true for a captured corporate government, which we have now. But there are many public projects and institutions that arguably create value where Wal-Mart et al cannot (ever), including NASA, NIH, the interstate highway system (okay, somewhat dubious), etc. Even a partial list of the New Deal legacy alone negates your statement. Beyond landmark legislation including Social Security, the FDIC, the Soil Conservation Service, the USDA etc., the WPA and CCC yielded a staggering number of built works and cultural treasures, employed tem million people, and despite obsolescence and neglect, is a commonwealth that continues to create real value and wealth.
          • 100 airports and 700 miles of runways (incl. Washington DC, Chicago, and NY’s LaGuardia Airport.)
          • 78,000 bridges (incl. Golden Gate Bridge, the Lincoln Tunnel and Triborough Bridge)
          • 125.000 buildings (civic buildings, libraries, universities, schools, playgrounds, hospitals, theaters, housing etc)
          • 650,000 miles of roadway and railways ((Blue Ridge Parkway (Skyline Drive) Key West’s Overseas Highway, Pennsylvania Railroad)
          • 8,000 state and national parks: reforestation (3 billion trees) lodges, trails, fire towers, campgrounds and facilities, (incl. Maryland’s Camp David, Shenandoah National Park and lodge, Timberline Lodge, Red rocks Amphitheater in Colorado)
          • New greenbelt towns in Maryland and Wisconsin
          • Levees. Dams, sewage treatment plants and utility networks (Rural electrification Act; Tennessee Valley Authority; Grand Coulee Dam; Ft. Peck Dam in Montana; Norris Dam in Tennessee)
          • Plus art, school lunches, disaster relief and firefighting

          There is no credible excuse for the government today not to mobilize a similar massive effort today, an Apollo Program (once pledged by BHO) to tackle global warming, peak oil, etc., which would include serious R&D in alternative energy and transportation (smart grids, wind, hydrogen, hi-speed, maglev, and light rail, etc.), as well as sustainable, localized farming, etc. Perhaps when this current dead-end regime collapses.

      2. NaluGirl

        I like the way you spelled bipartisan. It seems much more appropriate the the conventional spelling.

        1. NaluGirl

          I was directing this to Eureka Springs, who said “But all we have in power now are democrats and republicans, both are hell bent on buy-partisan agreement in nearly all aspects delegated to these terms.”

  14. attempter

    What’s called “libertarianism”* today, but as a comment above says should really be called propertarianism (including support for big, aggressive government, but only as thug and bagman on behalf of “property”), has nothing at all to do with any sort of freedom, negative or positive, economic or political. In every realm it’s only about Might Makes Right.

    (But only one kind of Might Makes Right, mind you. Only the kind involving the violent enforcement of the prerogatives and aggression of existing property hoards of those who hold those hoards.

    But they scream hysterically the moment anyone proposes to deal with them as they deal with us, Might-Right for Might-Right, but on a different field of battle. Suddenly they discover “principles” and “morality” and screech about the sanctity of their order. As always, it’s Might Makes Right for me, altruism, self-sacrifice, “morality” for you.)

    *Libertarianism was originally a synonym for anarchism, but in the 20th century was ripped off by gangsters. So as with everything else, all they know how to do is steal.

    1. Foppe

      A society in the absence of other bonds is a society ruled by the only formal bond which is unavoidable: money (the society would collapse long before this point is reached, but that’s a second issue). Libertarians want such a society, therefore, propertarianism is the logical endpoint of libertarianism. (I’m sure some libertarians wouldn’t go for money/influence, but they’d just be left by the wayside like everyone else, so their opinion is irrelevant, if I may be social-darwinist for a moment ;).)

  15. LM Dorsey

    “true libertarians”

    see also: “true Christians,” “genuine Marxists,” “real Americans”

  16. Whatbuffons

    Oh for crying out loud! It is the Left’s “long march through the institutions that has attempted to “re-engineered values”. Someone stands up to them and you accuse them of what the Left is up to. More projection onto the decent and honorable of the loopy and toxic little psycho-drama pinging around inside your brain pan.

    That “values” of the LEFT–which are, of course, actually vices–are what are radical and ruinous. These are the “value” of the Neo-Communist Democrat Party. What Powell proposed were the traditional values, economic or otherwise, that has made this county great. To imagine that this is “re-engineering” anything s just pure deceitful rhetoric and sophistry (and commonplaces hereabouts, I might add).

    Powell is dead right–he could not be more right–and it is not just your imaginary bogeyman of “corporations” that agree with him. Everyone that is not on the Hard Left or are not their clients or sycophants agrees with him, Furthermore, “Corporations” do not just have a right to stand up to this: they have a duty.

    While you are at it, get over this sophomoric idea that everyone that does not agree with your hideous Marxist cant is somehow controlled by the “Koch brothers” or “corporate interest”. It is you that are controlled, and controlled by the worst sort of vipers: Left wing political fronts and their direct action activists, organizations and propagandists. You are projecting. What bilge–you clearly show that you have no idea of the realty of your nation or the history of communism.

    (BTW, there s nothing wrong with the Koch brothers and nothing nefarious at all about them or their activities.
    Only Marxists despise people because they have money and are successful business people who stand op for their self interests and property rights, and capitalism, liberty and a smaller state in general. Only a Marxist calls these people “A Class”. Soros, and filth like him, on the other hand should be tossed in jail. The bankrollng of the Left by rich, opportunists socialists, other interest groups, and, yes, even foreign enemies, far eclipses what “the Koch brothers” have given out. My goodness, the Democrats have hardwired the unwitting taxpayer into supporting their Nomenklatura to the tune of trillions over the last 60 years. Have you forgotten that it is a matter of record that much of the direct political action of the left in the 60’s and the 70’s, the very sort of political fronts whose rhetoric you parrot, where directly funded by the Kremlin? Are you really so naive? What a dishonest little hypocrite you are. What a tool.)

    Suzy-q, you should really be ashamed of yourself still harping on the anti-corporate, anti-business Marxist BS at your age. You embarrass yourself. You imagine that you are a “business consultant”? No wonder you got pushed out of McKinsey. You really need to grow up. You really need to face those “daddy problems” of your as well. (And maybe finally face those laddering issues at McKinsey And Co.–they were really your fault you know ).

    You need to stop confusng the nation with your various neuroses.

    1. Foppe

      Did you know that “Buffoons” actually contains 2 “o” characters? Anyway, thanks for your contribution. You seem to be really afraid of “Marxists”. Do tell, though, how you figure that a marginalized ideology like that one has so much influence over your country’s direction? Do you really believe that the corporate nitwit Bill Clinton destroyed everything you hold dear, or might it be that something else is going on?

      1. KFritz

        May refer to “buffon/buffone,” Italian for buffoon, clown, etc.

        Gianluigi Buffon, fr/ Carrara, of marble fame, is one the world’s top soccer goalies.

    2. Anonymous Jones

      This has to be sarcasm. It’s just not quite over the top enough.

      You’ve got a lot of random name-calling like “Marxists,” but I think the buffoon needs a few more modifiers like “stupid” and “stealing” to make the point even more clear.

      Then you got the appeal of unverifiable and almost certainly uninvestigated suppositions of what is “traditional” or not. Swift would have picked some examples like, maybe, the existence of raping and pillaging marauders throughout all of history to make the sarcasm bite a little more. Spice it up. Entertainment value is key in parts like this. You want to almost elicit a laugh, chuckle or snort. [but not in the “wrong” way]

      Then there’s the gleefully wild clarion call to the corporations of the world of their “duty” to screw all their stakeholders but a few. I have to be honest, that part was pretty good [may have been *too* good, don’t want farce to creep into your satire].

      And I like the use of “sycophants,” too. Makes me think this was a group effort and a dictionary was handy.

      All in all, the A. Jones funded Institute of Sarcasm, Satire and Silliness gives this a “C-”. Almost average. Encouraging, but a lot of work still to do.

    3. jtnsr159

      Is it possible that they are trying to offset the 95% of college professors that lean hard left. I don’t see any comments here that mention the oft cited stance of our patrons of higher education.

    4. narodnik

      That is some dumb invective up there. It’s funny cuz I bet everybody here’s a much more successful capitalist than he is but he thinks he loves capitalists and hates everybody here. Like, I make more & more money as his economy goes into the shitter. Can he do that? Hell no, I bet. What the hell kind of capitalist is that? Go ahead and hate the capitalists, you dope, but at least hate em for the right reasons.

    5. CS

      Butwuffons – that was brilliant. I agree – the propertied masters should use every resource at hand to grind the sniveling sharecroppers into the dirt. Roosevelt was a traitor to his class.

      atheism, communism, free love

    6. Yves Smith Post author

      It’s revealing when all someone can muster is name calling (and pretty pathetic, hysterical name calling at that) in lieu of a substantive argument.

      And I wasn’t pushed out of McKinsey. I more than doubled my pay when I quit.

      1. Narodnik

        Please, don’t whup him too bad. When autocorrelation takes hold, speculative merit displaces investment merit, and the greater fool thesis applies, there is no greater fool than a wound-up libertard loser. This specimen is a national treasure, ready to buy at every top, panic at every bottom and generally circulate his hard-earned money into proper hands like mine. He is truly the salt of the earth.

  17. Hugh

    The Koch brothers didn’t make a donation to Florida State. They bought an economics department, and importantly it wasn’t even that expensive for them to do so, which says a lot about the economics department at FSU.

    The corporatization of universities is actually quite advanced. On the science side, I believe there is a lot of corporate funding of research. Universities generally encourage such funding and joint ventures. On the social sciences side, there is the FSU deal, but then there is the whole panoply of centers with varying degrees of pseudo-independence and links to their universities. I don’t follow this area closely. Still I was surprised someone wanted to co-opt anything in the humanities. Usually humanities is such a low priority that no one would think to put their cash there.

    1. Foppe

      It is quite peculiar, yes. For an economics faculty, 1.5m should be relative peanuts.. But I guess something like this is hard to prevent when the board is willing to go along with it.

    2. patricia

      I’m fairly certain that the Koch bros believe economics to be “science”, not “humanity” lol

      I don’t think it’s surprising that the humanities are falling under the corporate wheels. It’s simply another part of the endless privatization of public goods while also accepting continued public funding. More rentier/toll syndrome.

      Also, remember what the “humanities” include: “ancient and modern languages, literature, history, philosophy, religion, and visual and performing arts….The humanities that are also regarded as social sciences include technology, anthropology, area studies, communication studies, cultural studies, law and linguistics.” (wikipedia) Covers a great deal of human thought, you know?

      It is the humanities that Texas education board is trying to revise for all grade school curricula across the nation.

      Yah, it is cheap to buy the humanities but that is more a sign of our twisted cultural priorities than it is of the actual value of the fields themselves. Also that the money is so badly needed is a sign of the continued rapid decline of state wealth.

  18. KFritz

    When someone asked Ben Franklin what kind of government the Constitutional Convention had created, as he left its (presumably final) meeting, he replied, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

    Although there’s all sorts of skullduggery and illegality marbled into it, there’s nothing illegal about the basic strategy described by Powell–which can be interpreted as, “Hire advocates who understand how to manipulate the psychology of the populace, and shape the populace’s opinion to suit our ends.”

    We, the populace, have not been proof against the skills of these ‘psychological experts for hire.’ It doesn’t seem likely that we’ll be able to keep our Republic.

  19. CS

    Florida State and the University of Arizona were already corrupt to accept funding with academic-freedom compromising strings for these positions. There should be an outcry in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

  20. Glen

    very interesting research on the handful that own / control most everything…..

  21. sgt_doom

    This would be a good posting to also mention the latest scam/astroturfing, Americans Elect (americanselect.org) — another smash & grab by the hedge fundsters and private banksters, a smattering of their “special advisors” (can you say investors?) below:

    Peter Ackerman, founder and managing parter of Rockport Capital, director, Council on Foreign Relations, former director Cato Institute (also has controlling interest in Crown Emak and presently co-owner of Fresh Direct)

    Elliot L. Ackerman (his son)

    Jacqueline Adams, Senior Counselor, Burson-Marteller

    Michael Arno, president of Arno Political Consultants and contributor to National Republican Congressional Committee (1999)

    Hilda Ochoa Brillembourg, president and CEO, Strategic Investment Group (hedge fund and private equity firm)

    John H. Burbank III, founder and managing member and CIO of Passport Capital (hedge fund) and contributor to: Contributor, Freedom and Prosperity PAC (2010), Prosperity PAC (2010), Every Republican is Crucial PAC (2010), National Republican Senatorial Committee (2010) and National Republican Congressional Committee (2010)

    Larry Diamond, Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution

    Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, CEO, E.L. Rothschild (private investment firm), director, The Economist

    Philip K. Howard, partner, Covington & Burling

    Lee Lowenstein, managing director, Lionstone Capital Management (private wealth investment firm, i.e., hedge fund)

    Morton H. Meyerson, chairman, Alsbridge (outsourcing corporation)

    1. Sufferin' Succotash

      Looks like a false-flag diversionary effort…
      Well, they do have lots of dough to throw around.

  22. JTFaraday

    “While the article quotes some sources that insist that the new center will be independent, they are all people who are direct beneficiaries, such as the head of the center and the dean of the college who presumably gains in stature from securing more funding.”

    Quelle surprise!

  23. Brawny Pulp

    “Torture, prolonged detention without trial, sexual humiliation, rape, disappearance, extortion, looting, random murder and abuse have become, as in Argentina during the Dirty War, part of our own subterranean world of detention sites and torture centers.

    We Americans have rewritten our laws, as the Argentines did, to make criminal behavior legal.” – Hedges

  24. Psychoanalystus

    I teach online philosophy and psychology classes for extra cash, and I often mention things like the the brutal American prison system, the loss of the American democracy and republic to things like Citizens United, the brutality of this empire across the world, and I often discuss the endemic corruption that now defines this country. Students love it, I get consistently excellent student evaluations, and I often hear that I am one of their most favorite professors, who opened their eyes to a reality they suspected to exist but were never told about by anybody else before me. Class readings include Chomsky, Chris Hedges, Naomi Klein, and Zinn.

    Fortunately, the university I teach at is only interested in money, else I probably would have been fired a long time ago.

  25. vlade

    I’m surprised people are surprised.
    It has been known for a rather very long time that “elected” democracies (that is, where mass of people is allowed to vote on who is to represent them) tend to degenerate into oligarchies.

    Hell, even Athenians, the proverbial parents of democracy knew it – which is why they run sortition rather than voting elections.

    In general, Athenians (and other older political systems) had a number of features which I’d like very much to introduce again. And no, I’m not talking about slavery – I’m talking about things like when in war, Athenes required the richest people to buy a warship. You could get away from it – if you pointed out that there was someone richer than you (and proved it) who wasn’t buying a ship, shifting the onus of buying&equipping it it on the richer person.
    I think it would be only fair and proper for some of the richer strata who support the current wars to say pay for equipping a division, buying an aircraft carrier etc. Of course, all they would get back is a warm and fuzzy feeling and maybe naming rights if we’re feeling generous.

    Whoever is designing a political system they want to be really fair, needs to be extremely cynical and assume that most parties will try to subvert it (which then initiates a nice positive feedback loop). In fact, they need to assume that someone in the future will succeed. I suspect that might have been the cause for “right to arm bears” clause in the constitution – even if I doubt it would really help in the current society, but can’t blame founding fathers for trying and not being able to foresee that few hundreds of year in future the political control and concentration would be beyond the wildest dreams of most monarch’s at that time.

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