Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Free market think tanks and the assault on public services and public sector workers

Recent articles by Amy Dean and Andy Kroll in the always excellent Mother Jones demonstrate the lies told by conservative and right wing think tanks who claim that they are independent organizations concerned only with developing and promulgating ideas and policy options.

Dean writes:
Michigan? Ohio? Indiana? In the wake of Republican Governor Scott Walker’s over-the-top attacks on public sector workers in Wisconsin, many people are asking which will be the next state to draw the public spotlight. However, looking at the state-level assaults by these arch-conservatives as individual battles might be the wrong approach. Ultimately, the right-wing maneuvers at the state level are part of a closely coordinated strategy. And together they add up to a national story.
 .........the right-wing has launched a sneak attack. They are attempting to rush through different statehouses a set of laws that have nothing to do with creating jobs or strengthening the economy. Rather, the laws are about undermining the ability of groups to organize collectively and exercise political influence at the polls. Teachers and government employees, in particular, have been selected because they are some of the last organized voices that oppose an unchecked corporate agenda. They have been strategically targeted because they represent the last vestiges of middle class America.
Kroll shows that the concerted nationwide attacks on labor unions and public services in the US by Republican politicians in states like Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada and California are being coordinated and driven by a network of conservative and right wing think-tanks funded by the US corporate elite and some of the richest businessmen and women in the country.

What is occurring is a not just an attack on labour unions and public services. It is an autocratic power grab to enable corporate power and moneyed elites to rule unilaterally over governments, the economy, and the environment.

Kroll's article demonstrates that right wing and conservative think tanks in the US are committed political players who use their money and power to actively drive political agendas and shape political decisions.

Kroll writes:
From New Hampshire to Alaska, Republican lawmakers are waging war on organized labor. They're pushing bills to curb, if not eliminate, collective bargaining for public workers; make it harder for unions to collect member dues; and, in some states, allow workers to opt out of joining unions entirely but still enjoy union-won benefits. All told, it's one of the largest assaults on American unions in recent history.
Behind the onslaught is a well-funded network of conservative think tanks that you've probably never heard of. Conceived by the same conservative ideologues who helped found the Heritage Foundation, the State Policy Network (SPN) is a little-known umbrella group with deep ties to the national conservative movement.
Its mission is simple: to back a constellation of state-level think tanks loosely modeled after Heritage that promote free-market principles and rail against unions, regulation, and tax increases. By blasting out policy recommendations and shaping lawmakers' positions through briefings and private meetings, these think tanks cultivate cozy relationships with GOP politicians. And there's a long tradition of revolving door relationships between SPN staffers and state governments. While they bill themselves as independent think tanks, SPN's members frequently gather to swap ideas. "We're all comrades in arms," the network's board chairman told the National Review in 2007."

No comments: