Lobby Groups, Policy, Government and Influence

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In Australia and the Anglo world of UK and US especially, political parties mostly of the right can be compromised by lobbying, especially in government.

The Liberal (conservative) Party in Australia, like its coalition partner the National Party (nominally based upon regional and/or agricultural interests), has become hollowed out through declining (grounded) membership, lack of original or organic policy making, deferral to lobbyists and US libertarian influenced think tanks in providing ‘oven ready’ policy.

Policy is then sold to both voters via media e.g. News Corp, 9Fairfax and 7, to MPs and committees directly, also ‘astro turfed’, then enacted and legislated, while often flying under the radar e.g. using cultural ‘wedge’ issues to deflect attention, with unclear sources of funding.

Following is an excerpt of an article from John Menadue, part of a series called ‘Lobbyland’ in Australia. 

LobbyLand. The scourge of powerful special interests and lobbyists.

By JOHN MENADUE | On 1 October 2020

A major reason for the loss of trust in governments and parliaments is the way powerful special interests with their lobbyists have come to dominate the public debate and skew decisions in their favour. The fossil fuel  sector is the most obvious and recent example…..

…..Lobbying has grown dramatically in recent years, particularly in Canberra. It now represents a growing and serious corruption of good governance and the development of sound public policy. In referring to the so called ‘public debate’ on climate change, Professor Ross Garnaut highlighted the ‘diabolical problem’ that vested interests brought to bear on public discussion on climate change.

Martin Parkinson, a former  Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, has warned about ‘vested interests’ who seek concessions from government at the expense of ordinary citizens.  Some time ago the former ACCC Chairman, Graeme Samuel, cautioned us that ‘A new conga line of rent seekers is lining up to take the place of those that have fallen out of favour’. In referring to opposition to company tax and carbon pollution reform policies, Ross Gittins in the SMH said ‘industry lobby groups [have] become less inhibited in pressing private interests at the expense of the wider public interest. [They] are ferociously resistant to reform proposals.’

These problems are widespread and growing.

There are about 280 lobbying entities registered in Canberra with the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. They lobby on behalf of over 3600 clients and employ close to 900 staff as lobbyists.

On top of these ‘third party’ lobbyists, there are the special interests who conduct their own lobbying, such as the Minerals Council of Australia, the Australian Pharmacy Guild and the Business Council of Australia.

These lobbyists encompass a range of interests including mining, clubs, hospitals, private health insurance funds, business and hotels that have all successfully challenged government policy and the public interest in many ways.

Just think what the Minerals Council of Australia did to defeat the Mining Super Profits Tax and  bring down Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister. That same Council led the campaign to defeat the Carbon Tax which remains the most sensible way to cut carbon pollution by taxing ‘externalities’….

…..With journalism under-resourced, the media depends increasingly on the propaganda and promotion put into the public arena by lobby groups. Many of the so-called economic and business economists we read, hear and see on our media are in the employ of the banks and accounting firms with their own self-interested agendas. It was no surprise that they gave us no inkling of the malaise and corruption of the banks. Only a Royal Commission exposed what was really happening….

…..All proposals by special interest groups should be accompanied by a public interest impact statement prepared by an independent and professional body. This statement should be made public and would be attached to representations from the interest group. Major private consulting firms and the four large accounting firms should be excluded from this process as many of them have shown themselves to be compromised in the interests of their clients.

‘Think tanks’ such as the Institute of Public Affairs and the Sydney Institute, which are secretly funded and act as fronts for vested interests, should not receive tax benefits….

…… No minister or senior official should work with a vested interest group that they have been associated with for at least five years after retirement or resignation. It is estimated that more than 50% of registered lobbyists have previously worked in government, for the  Coalition and Labor.

Adequate funding of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, to ensure it can assert the public interest and promote public debate, is now more important than ever. The ABC, despite its obvious shortcomings, is still the most trusted media institution in the country. News Corp is the least trusted.

For more articles about Australian politics, climate change, conservative, fossil fuel pollution, libertarian economics, media and political strategy

Libertarian Economic Policy Promotion and Think Tanks

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The Anglo world, especially the US, UK and Australia have conservative governments all pursuing similar or even identical radical right libertarian economic policies informed by think tanks, like Australia’s IPA Institute of Public Affairs.

However, the many lobby groups masquerading as think tanks now populating Anglosphere media, politics and academia have much in common including a need to promote libertarian policies to MPs, governments, media and society.

Further, most if not all policy their ideas emanate from US based proponents of radical right libertarian policies including James Buchanan, Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman, Hayek and von Mises.  The support, communication and promotion of these ideas comes from Koch Network(s) of think tanks, especially the Atlas Network which includes AEI American Enterprise Institute, ALEC American Legislative Exchange Council, Heritage Foundation etc., while in Australia it is CIS Centre for Independent Studies and the IPA.

From the IPA Institute of Public Affairs, recommendations for then Australian PM and now UK Brexit trade envoy Tony Abbott:

Be Like Gough: 75 Radical Ideas To Transform Australia

John Roskam, Chris Berg and James Paterson Started 5 August 2012

If Tony Abbott wants to leave a lasting impact – and secure his place in history – he needs to take his inspiration from Australia’s most left-wing prime minister.

No prime minister changed Australia more than Gough Whitlam. The key is that he did it in less than three years. In a flurry of frantic activity, Whitlam established universal healthcare, effectively nationalised higher education with free tuition, and massively increased public sector salaries. He more than doubled the size of cabinet from 12 ministers to 27.

He enacted an ambitious cultural agenda that continues to shape Australia to this day. In just three years, Australia was given a new national anthem, ditched the British honours system, and abolished the death penalty and national service. He was the first Australian prime minister to visit communist China and he granted independence to Papua New Guinea. 

Whitlam also passed the Racial Discrimination Act. He introduced no-fault divorce.

Perhaps his most lasting legacy has been the increase in the size of government he bequeathed to Australia. When Whitlam took office in 1972, government spending as a percentage of GDP was just 19 per cent. When he left office it had soared to almost 24 per cent.

Virtually none of Whitlam’s signature reforms were repealed by the Fraser government. The size of the federal government never fell back to what it was before Whitlam. Medicare remains. TheRacial Discrimination Act – rightly described by the Liberal Senator Ivor Greenwood in 1975 as ‘repugnant to the rule of law and to freedom of speech’ – remains…..

Libertarian Wish List of Policy Actions:

1 Repeal the carbon tax, and don’t replace it. It will be one thing to remove the burden of the carbon tax from the Australian economy. But if it is just replaced by another costly scheme, most of the benefits will be undone.

2 Abolish the Department of Climate Change

3 Abolish the Clean Energy Fund

4 Repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act

5 Abandon Australia’s bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council

6 Repeal the renewable energy target

7 Return income taxing powers to the states

8 Abolish the Commonwealth Grants Commission

9 Abolish the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

10 Withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol

11 Introduce fee competition to Australian universities

12 Repeal the National Curriculum

13 Introduce competing private secondary school curriculums

14 Abolish the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)

15 Eliminate laws that require radio and television broadcasters to be ‘balanced’

16 Abolish television spectrum licensing and devolve spectrum management to the common law

17 End local content requirements for Australian television stations

18 Eliminate family tax benefits

19 Abandon the paid parental leave scheme

20 Means-test Medicare

21 End all corporate welfare and subsidies by closing the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education

22 Introduce voluntary voting

23 End mandatory disclosures on political donations

24 End media blackout in final days of election campaigns

25 End public funding to political parties

26 Remove anti-dumping laws

27 Eliminate media ownership restrictions

28 Abolish the Foreign Investment Review Board

29 Eliminate the National Preventative Health Agency

30 Cease subsidising the car industry

31 Formalise a one-in, one-out approach to regulatory reduction

32 Rule out federal funding for 2018 Commonwealth Games

33 Deregulate the parallel importation of books

34 End preferences for Industry Super Funds in workplace relations laws

35 Legislate a cap on government spending and tax as a percentage of GDP

36 Legislate a balanced budget amendment which strictly limits the size of budget deficits and the period the federal government can be in deficit

37 Force government agencies to put all of their spending online in a searchable database

38 Repeal plain packaging for cigarettes and rule it out for all other products, including alcohol and fast food

39 Reintroduce voluntary student unionism at universities

40 Introduce a voucher scheme for secondary schools

41 Repeal the alcopops tax

42 Introduce a special economic zone in the north of Australia including:

a) Lower personal income tax for residents

b) Significantly expanded 457 Visa programs for workers

c) Encourage the construction of dams

43 Repeal the mining tax

44 Devolve environmental approvals for major projects to the states

45 Introduce a single rate of income tax with a generous tax-free threshold

46 Cut company tax to an internationally competitive rate of 25 per cent

47 Cease funding the Australia Network

48 Privatise Australia Post

49 Privatise Medibank

50 Break up the ABC and put out to tender each individual function

51 Privatise SBS

52 Reduce the size of the public service from current levels of more than 260,000 to at least the 2001 low of 212,784

53 Repeal the Fair Work Act

54 Allow individuals and employers to negotiate directly terms of employment that suit them

55 Encourage independent contracting by overturning new regulations designed to punish contractors

56 Abolish the Baby Bonus

57 Abolish the First Home Owners’ Grant

58 Allow the Northern Territory to become a state

59 Halve the size of the Coalition front bench from 32 to 16

60 Remove all remaining tariff and non-tariff barriers to international trade

61 Slash top public servant salaries to much lower international standards, like in the United States

62 End all public subsidies to sport and the arts

63 Privatise the Australian Institute of Sport

64 End all hidden protectionist measures, such as preferences for local manufacturers in government tendering

65 Abolish the Office for Film and Literature Classification

66 Rule out any government-supported or mandated internet censorship

67 Means test tertiary student loans

68 Allow people to opt out of superannuation in exchange for promising to forgo any government income support in retirement

69 Immediately halt construction of the National Broadband Network and privatise any sections that have already been built

70 End all government funded Nanny State advertising

71 Reject proposals for compulsory food and alcohol labelling

72 Privatise the CSIRO

73 Defund Harmony Day

74 Close the Office for Youth

75 Privatise the Snowy-Hydro Scheme’

For more articles and blogs about Australian politics, climate change, conservative, economics, environment, government budgets, libertarian economics, media, political strategy and populist politics click through.

GOP Republicans, Conservative White and Christian Nationalists Face Demographic Headwinds

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Political parties, governments and media in the Anglo world including Trump’s GOP, Australia (with proxy white Australia narratives) and the UK (with immigration becoming the deciding Brexit issue), influenced by US libertarians and/or bigots in politics, may be approaching their tactical ‘use by date’ or demographic ‘blow back’?  

 

They have been highlighting and reinforcing round population growth, immigration (need for restrictions), Anglo exceptionalism, globalisation, non Christians, supranational bodies, white nationalism and great replacement theory, to ageing monocultural non urban electorates.

 

However, for the GOP Republicans may end up with electoral ‘blow back’ from youth, minorities, women and immigrants giving the Democrats long term advantage for power due to changing demographics i.e. more diverse citizens in electorates whom are attacked by GOP politicians, supporters, ideologues and media.
From The Boston Globe:

 

The Republicans’ demographic trap

Republicans are sitting on a demographic time bomb of their own making, and it could send them into a tailspin.

By Thomas E. Patterson

Republicans were in office and were widely blamed when the Great Depression struck in 1929. The Grand Old Party lost the next three presidential elections by wide margins. But it was a related development during the period that ruined the GOP‘s long-term prospects. First-time voters backed the Democratic Party by nearly 2 to 1 and stayed loyal to it. Election after election until the late 1960s, their votes carried the Democrats to victory.

In only one period since then have young voters sided heavily with one party in a series of elections. Voters under 30 have backed the Democratic presidential nominee by a 3-to-2 margin over the past four contests. And as they’ve aged, these voters have leaned more heavily Democratic while also turning out to vote in higher numbers. They now include everyone between the ages of 21 and 45 — more than 40 percent of the nation’s adults.

Republicans are sitting on a demographic time bomb of their own making, and it could send them into a tailspin. Although the politics of division that Republicans have pursued since Richard Nixon launched his “Southern strategy” in the late 1960s — a blueprint to shore up the vote of white Southerners by appealing to racial bias — has brought new groups into their ranks, including conservative Southerners, evangelical Christians, and working-class whites, it has antagonized other groups.

Republicans are paying a stiff price for defaming immigrants. If they hadn’t, they could have made inroads with the Latinx population. Although most Latinx have conservative views on issues like abortion and national security, they vote more than 2 to 1 Democratic. A 2019 poll found that 51 percent of Latinx believe that the GOP is “hostile” toward them, with an additional 29 percent believing that the GOP “doesn’t care” about them…..

There was a warning from The Cafe con leche Republicans in 2012 of the dangers in following the white nationalists agitprop promoted by John Tanton’s network of think tanks, lobbyists and grass roots ‘astro turfing’ also crossing paths with Koch’s ALEC.

 

In 2012 (published in the TexasGOPVote) Cafe con leche Republicans warned of think tanks (they mistakenly described as ‘left’) arguing for immigration restrictions, promoting white nationalism and focusing upon bogus demographics i.e. ‘great replacement theory’; attacking potential and future constituents for the GOP is not good long term policy:

 

John Tanton Networks like FAIR, NumbersUSA and CIS – Leftist Groups Manipulating Republicans

Groups like FAIR, NumbersUSA and the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) have long worked to deepen and widen a wedge between conservative Hispanic citizens and the Republican Party. Looking at the boards of these organization provides insight into their true agenda: That being a pro-choice, zero population growth, anti immigrant, radical environmentalist agenda from about as far left as can be seen.  

“Smoking Gun” Memo Proves Tanton Network Manipulates Republicans

By Bob Quasius

John Tanton is infamous for founding numerous anti-immigrant groups, which not only seek strict enforcement of immigration laws, but also drastic reductions in LEGAL immigration. Tanton also founded U.S. English and Pro-English, which decry changes in culture and misrepresent immigrants’ willingness to learn English and assimilate, and pursue “official English” policies designed to make America less welcoming to New Americans who are going through the process of assimilation.

Among the papers that John Tanton donated to the University of Michigan, is a 2001 ‘smoking gun’ memo that shows how Tanton has manipulated the Republican Party with the bogus argument that immigrants invariably become Democrats and so immigration is contrary to the interests of the Republican Party….

….Tanton is infamous for numerous comments disparaging Latinos in particular, such as a statement in a 1993 memo, “I’ve come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that.” Tanton is also a big fan of eugenics, for example this statement from a 1996 letter: “Do we leave it to individuals to decide that they are the intelligent ones who should have more kids? And more troublesome, what about the less intelligent, who logically should have less? Who is going to break the bad news [to less intelligent individuals], and how will it be implemented?”…

…Conservatives should take note that Tanton’s first attempts to co-opt other organizations for his radical population control agenda were of progressive organizations, such as Planned Parenthood and the Sierra Club. These groups eventually realized they were being co-opted and rejected Tanton’s agenda, and so too should conservative organizations. Tanton himself founded Planned Parenthood of Northern Michigan and served as president. His resume shows a long list of leadership roles, not in conservative groups but progressive organizations. The Tanton network can best be described as an unholy alliance of population control progressives, environmentalists, and white nationalists.

 

For more blogs and articles about ageing democracy, Australian politics, Conservative, demography, immigration, political strategy, population growth, populist politics, white nationalism and younger generations click through.

 

Climate Change Science Attitudes Australia and Koch in USA

Climate science or climate change denialism have been apparent for some decades since the 1970s with Koch Industries being central along with ‘big oil’ of Exxon Mobil etc. in funding through ‘Dark Money’ academia, research, think tanks, media, politicians and PR techniques to influence society.  Now we see the results including wide-spread climate denialism, avoidance of environmental protections and negative media PR campaigns; meanwhile the roots of this strategy have become more transparent with legal action following. 

 

Climate Lawsuits Are Coming for Koch Industries

 

Dharna Noor June 25, 2020

 

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced on Wednesday that he’s suing ExxonMobil, Koch Industries, and the American Petroleum Institute because the three firms deceived customers about the climate crisis. This is the first lawsuit of its kind to name API and Koch Industries, and it takes a novel approach by suing them solely for the lies they told.

 

The consumer fraud lawsuit alleges that the companies engaged in a multi-decade “campaign of deception,” hiding the fact that they understood as early as the 1950s that oil and gas production contributes to climate breakdown and still chose to extract, market, and sell the fuels. It includes claims for fraud, failure to warn and violations of Minnesota statutes on consumer fraud, deceptive trade practices and false statements in advertising. As retribution, it calls for Minnesotans to be compensated for their losses and for the defendants to fund a public education campaign about the dangers of climate change.

 

“We’re here suing these defendants, API, ExxonMobil and Koch, for hiding the truth, confusing the facts and muddling the water to devastating effect,” Ellison said at a news conference…..

 

….. But while other lawsuits have targeted ExxonMobil and other major oil producers, Ellison’s groundbreaking suit targets not just the polluting companies but also fossil fuel lobbyists who also deceived consumers. The multinational Koch Industries’ does produce fossil fuel products — in fact, it owns a large Minnesota refinery that manufactures about 80% of the gasoline used in the state — but it is also heavily involved in lobbying for the fossil fuel industry’s interests. And API is the largest U.S. trade association for oil and natural gas companies. Naming these representatives, rather than just fossil fuel producers themselves, lays out that they had a role in the deception as well.

 

Meanwhile in Australia, from SBS on climate change attitudes:

 

The number of climate deniers in Australia is more than double the global average, new study finds

 

News consumers in Australia are more likely to believe climate change is “not at all” serious compared to news consumers in other countries, according to new research.

 

16/06/2020 by Caroline Fisher & Sora Park

 

Australian news consumers are far more likely to believe climate change is “not at all” serious compared to news users in other countries. That’s according to new research that surveyed 2,131 Australians about their news consumption in relation to climate change.

 

The Digital News Report: Australia 2020 was conducted by the University of Canberra at the end of the severe bushfire season during 17 January and 8 February, 2020.

 

It also found the level of climate change concern varies considerably depending on age, gender, education, place of residence, political orientation and the type of news consumed.

 

Young people are much more concerned than older generations, women are more concerned than men, and city-dwellers think it’s more serious than news consumers in regional and rural Australia.

 

Strident critics in commercial media

 

There’s a strong connection between the brands people use and whether they think climate change is serious.

 

More than one-third (35 per cent) of people who listen to commercial AM radio (such as 2GB, 2UE, 3AW) or watch Sky News consider climate change to be “not at all” or “not very” serious, followed by Fox News consumers (32 per cent).

 

This is perhaps not surprising when some of the most strident critics of climate change science can be found on commercial AM radio, Sky and Fox News.

 

For more articles and blogs about Australian politics, climate change, critical thinking, digital or e-consumer behaviour, environment, fossil fuel pollution, marketing & communications, political strategy, populist politics, science literacy, strategic management, WOM word of mouth and younger generations.

 

 

 

Anglo Radical Right Libertarianism and Economics

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The Anglo world especially including the US, UK and Australia, and elsewhere, have been subjected to neo classical economics, monetarist etc. theories exemplified by demands for small government, low taxation, cuts to state services, low regulation etc., with unwitting support from conservative and other voters.

 

Nancy MacLean in ‘Democracy in Chains’ stumbled across odd bedfellows and links to discover this movement promoting nineteenth century economic ideology and eugenics.

 

Radical Right Libertarians – MacLean

Misinforming the Majority: A Deliberate Strategy of Right-Wing Libertarians
BY
Mark Karlin, Truthout
PUBLISHED
July 9, 2017

When and how were the seeds sown for the modern far-right’s takeover of American politics? Nancy MacLean reveals the deep and troubling roots of this secretive political establishment — and its decades-long plan to change the rules of democratic governance — in her new book, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America. Get your copy by making a donation to Truthout now!

 

Many individuals who follow politics and journalists think that the right-wing playbook began with the Koch brothers. However, in her groundbreaking book, Nancy MacLean traces their political strategy to a Southern economist who created the foundation for today’s libertarian oligarchy in the 1950s.

 

Mark Karlin: Can you summarize the importance of James McGill Buchanan to the development of the modern extreme right wing in the United States?

 

Nancy MacLean: The modern extreme right wing I’m talking about, just to be clear, is the libertarian movement that now sails under the Republican flag, particularly but not only the Freedom Caucus, yet goes back to the 1950s in both parties. President Eisenhower called them “stupid” and fashioned his approach — calling it modern Republicanism — as an antidote to them. Goldwater was their first presidential candidate. He bombed. Reagan, they believed, was going to enact their agenda. He didn’t. But beginning in the early 2000s, they became a force to be reckoned with. What had changed? The discovery by their chief funder, Charles Koch, of the approach developed by James McGill Buchanan for how to take apart the liberal state.

 

Buchanan studied economics at the University of Chicago and belonged to the same milieu as F.A. Hayek, Milton Friedman and Ludwig von Mises, but he used his training to analyze public life. And he supplied what no one else had: an operational strategy to vanquish the model of government they had been criticizing for decades — and prevent it from being recreated. It was Buchanan who taught Koch that for capitalism to thrive, democracy must be enchained.

 

Buchanan was a very smart man, the only winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics from the US South, in fact. But his life’s work was forever shaped by the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision. He arrived in Virginia in 1956, just as the state’s leaders were goading the white South to fight the court’s ruling, a ruling he saw not through the lens of equal protection of the law for all citizens but rather as another wave in a rising tide of unwarranted and illegitimate federal interference in the affairs of the states that began with the New Deal. For him what was at stake was the sanctity of private property rights, with northern liberals telling southern owners how to spend their money and behave correctly. Given an institute to run on the campus of the University of Virginia, he promised to devote his academic career to understanding how the other side became so powerful and, ultimately, to figuring out an effective line of attack to break down what they had created and return to what he and the Virginia elite viewed as appropriate for America. In a nutshell, he studied the workings of the political process to figure out what was needed to deny ordinary people — white and Black — the ability to make claims on government at the expense of private property rights and the wishes of capitalists. And then he identified how to rejigger that political process not only to reverse the gains but also to prevent the system from ever reverting back.

 

Why, until your book, has his importance to the right wing been largely overlooked?

 

There are a few reasons Buchanan has been overlooked. One is that the Koch cause does not advertise his work, preferring to tout the sunnier primers of Hayek, Friedman and even Ayn Rand when recruiting. Buchanan is the advanced course, as it were, for the already committed. Another is that Buchanan did not seek the limelight like Friedman, so few on the left have even heard of him. I myself learned of him only by serendipity, in a footnote about the Virginia schools fight.

 

How would you draw a line connecting Buchanan to the Koch brothers?

 

Charles Koch supplied the money, but it was James Buchanan who supplied the ideas that made the money effective. An MIT-trained engineer, Koch in the 1960s began to read political-economic theory based on the notion that free-reign capitalism (what others might call Dickensian capitalism) would justly reward the smart and hardworking and rightly punish those who failed to take responsibility for themselves or had lesser ability. He believed then and believes now that the market is the wisest and fairest form of governance, and one that, after a bitter era of adjustment, will produce untold prosperity, even peace. But after several failures, Koch came to realize that if the majority of Americans ever truly understood the full implications of his vision of the good society and were let in on what was in store for them, they would never support it. Indeed, they would actively oppose it.

 

So, Koch went in search of an operational strategy — what he has called a “technology” — of revolution that could get around this hurdle. He hunted for 30 years until he found that technology in Buchanan’s thought. From Buchanan, Koch learned that for the agenda to succeed, it had to be put in place in incremental steps, what Koch calls “interrelated plays”: many distinct yet mutually reinforcing changes of the rules that govern our nation. Koch’s team used Buchanan’s ideas to devise a roadmap for a radical transformation that could be carried out largely below the radar of the people, yet legally. The plan was (and is) to act on so many ostensibly separate fronts at once that those outside the cause would not realize the revolution underway until it was too late to undo it. Examples include laws to destroy unions without saying that is the true purpose, suppressing the votes of those most likely to support active government, using privatization to alter power relations — and, to lock it all in, Buchanan’s ultimate recommendation: a “constitutional revolution.”

 

Today, operatives funded by the Koch donor network operate through dozens upon dozens of organizations (hundreds, if you count the state and international groups), creating the impression that they are unconnected when they are really working together — the state ones are forced to share materials as a condition of their grants. For example, here are the names of 15 of the most important Koch-funded, Buchanan-savvy organizations each with its own assignment in the division of labor: There’s Americans for Prosperity, the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Mercatus Center, Americans for Tax Reform, Concerned Veterans of America, the Leadership Institute, Generation Opportunity, the Institute for Justice, the Independent Institute, the Club for Growth, the Donors Trust, Freedom Partners, Judicial Watch — whoops, that’s more than 15, and it’s not counting the over 60 other organizations in the State Policy Network. This cause operates through so many ostensibly separate organizations that its architects expect the rest of us will ignore all the small but extremely significant changes that cumulatively add up to revolutionary transformation. Gesturing to this, Tyler Cowen, Buchanan’s successor at George Mason University, even titled his blog “Marginal Revolution.”

 

In what way was Buchanan connected to white oligarchical racism?

 

Buchanan came up with his approach in the crucible of the civil rights era, as the most oligarchic state elite in the South faced the loss of its accustomed power. Interestingly, he almost never wrote explicitly about racial matters, but he did identify as a proud southern “country boy” and his center gave aid to Virginia’s reactionaries on both class and race matters. His heirs at George Mason University, his last home, have noted that Buchanan’s political economy is quite like that of John C. Calhoun, the antebellum South Carolina US Senator who, until Buchanan, was America’s most original theorist of how to constrict democracy so as to safeguard the wealth and power of an elite economic minority (in Calhoun’s case, large slaveholders). Buchanan arrived in Virginia just as Calhoun’s ideas were being excavated to stop the implementation of Brown, so the kinship was more than a coincidence. His vision of the right economic constitution owes much to Calhoun, whose ideas horrified James Madison, among others……

 

…..Having said that, though, I also believe that panic is the last thing we need. There is great strength to be found in the simple truth that Buchanan and Koch came up with the kind of strategy now in play precisely because they knew that the majority, if fully informed, would never support what they seek. So, the best thing that those who support a robust, non-plutocratic society can do is focus on patiently informing and activating that majority. And reminding all Americans that democracy is not something you can just assume will survive: It has to be fought for time and again. This is one of those moments.’

 

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