Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Meet the think tanks paid to wage war on workers

We've bitched about the Koch brothers trying to destroy the middle class, and the DeVoses for their efforts to get rid of public education. Unfortunately, there are plenty more malanthropists where they come from. Today,  Mother Jones revealed more about the "think tanks" paid by plutocrats to attack workers. Writes Andy Kroll,
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.
Kroll reports the SPN was founded in 1992 by Ronald Reagan pal Thomas Roe—who also served on the Heritage Foundation's board of trustees for two decades. The SPN now has 59 "freedom centers," or affiliated think tanks, in all 50 states. It's funded by the usual suspects.

So when the plutocrats' candidates took over state legislatures and governors' offices in November, they played out a drama scripted by the SPN think tanks.
  • Iowa's double-dipping governor, Terry Branstad used research by SPN's Public Interest Institute as justification for curbing public workers' collective bargaining rights. (It died in the Senate.)
  • Michigan's Mackinac Center for Public Policy, recommended financial martial law, which passed in March. Now Detroit's teachers all have pink slips and Benton Harbor residents are being taxed without representation. 
  • Nevada's Policy Research Institute (NPRI) came up with data to support a bill weakening collective bargaining rights.
  • In California, the Pacific Research Institute puts out reports and op-eds to attack collective bargaining for teachers.
  • In Wisconsin, the MacIver Institute and Wisconsin Policy Research Institute supported fellow Koch whore Gov. Scott Walker; the MacIver Institute even produced a video calling workers who protested in Madison communists and socialists.
  • In Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs urged lawmakers in support of a bill to strip collective bargaining rights from government workers. (The governor is expected to sign the bill into law.)
And people made fun of Hillary Clinton for complaining about a "vast right-wing network."