According to journalist Bill Glauber of the Journal Sentinel out of Wisconsin, a Chicago-based free-market think tank has prepared a strategy to sway the recall debate in Wisconsin in favor of Governor Walker and the reactionary corporatists. This includes detailing “the shortcomings of public schools,” according to leaked documents that appeared this week on the Internet. That ‘free market based think tank’ is the Heartland Institute and they have a long history of working assiduously to re-enclose the public commons (http://www.jsonline.com/news/wisconsin/leaked-documents-detail-operation-angry-badger-u447pp9-139483133.html).
“Operation Angry Badger”, as it is called, purportedly describes a Heartland Institute proposal that would cost about $612,000 and focus on promoting Wisconsin Act 10, which curtailed collective bargaining for most public-sector workers” (ibid).
Evidently, the information gathered from the organization’s purported 2012 fundraising plan appeared with other documents on the DeSmogBlog and ThinkProgress websites (http://thinkprogress.org/heartland-institute-documents/?mobile=nc). Heartland bitterly denied the accuracy of the documents. Issuing a statement last week, the group stated:
“Some of these documents were stolen from Heartland, at least one is a fake, and some may have been altered” (http://www.jsonline.com/news/wisconsin/leaked-documents-detail-operation-angry-badger-u447pp9-139483133.html).
The recently released documents went on to warn:
“Successful recalls would be a major setback to the national effort to rein in public sector compensation and union power” (ibid).
The authenticity of the documents have still not been confirmed but one thing we do know: The Heartland Institute is no stranger to reactionary causes. According to its website, the Heartland Institute aims “to discover, develop and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems.” The organization also backs “parental choice in education”, which, like the naked market-based language above, is really coded rhetoric in support of school privatization.
The “Operation Badger” document that has circulated on the Internet described five potential projects the Heartland Institute considered for assuring political victory inWisconsin:
“Recruit and promote superintendents who support Act 10”;
“Explain the benefits of Act 10”;
“Document the shortcomings of public schools inWisconsin”;
“Expose teacher pay in key districts”;
“Create blogs that shadow small town newspaper coverage of the controversy” (Richard Littlemore, “Heartland Insider Exposes Institute’s Budget and Strategy” Heartland Institute, Feb. 14, 2012.).
If the documents are valid, it is clear that Heartland is just another Lego in the ongoing onslaught of corporate financed political campaigns aimed at confusing the electorate and seizing political power.
Just what does the Heartland Institute do?
Basically the Heartland Institute is a reactionary ‘outfit’ that runs its headquarters out ofChicago— home of Arne Duncan, the putrid Rahm Emmanuel mayoral regime and the secret parliament known as the ‘Commercial Club of Chicago’ (http://www.commercialclubchicago.org/).
As a self-proclaimed ‘free market think tank’ the Heartland Institute parades their reactionary arguments to advance right wing public policy issues for education, healthcare, taxes, the environment, telecommunication regulation and budgetary issues – in fact the whole gamut of societal endeavors. As a conservative think tank the group advances solutions crafted by the most reactionary corporate elements in America.
The Heartland Institute definitely operates as a key propagandist to the present right wing movement in the U.S. In education vouchers are at the center of their reform demands and are the true goal of most reactionaries. Their healthcare goal is the same: to decimate and privatize Medicare and Medicaid in a similar voucher hoax. As a cash-flush formidable think tank with plenty of fuel for the political fire, Heartland gins up movements at all levels of government by supplying supplicants with “data” and arguments against unions. By projecting ‘shadows on the cave wall’, they have convinced many confused Americans tethered to their chairs that government is the problem and corporate dominance and control is the solution.
According to tax filings from 2001 to 2010, the Heartland Institute received $905,000 in funding from the Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation, another right wing reactionary foundation. But Bradley is hardly alone in heaping largess on the ‘institute’.
In their most recent expenditure statement Heartland reported spending over $28,132,000 since 1998 receiving funding from right wing foundations including the Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, Reason Foundation, Manhattan Institute along with corporations and individual (http://thinkprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/1-15-2012-2012-Fundraising-Plan.pdf). The Koch brothers are huge admirers and supporters of the reactionary ‘corporate union’ that operates as a non-profit 501 C (3). The goal of the outfit is to affect public policy favorably, or in their corporate interests, at every level of government from the city to the county to the state to the federal.
According to Sourcewatch:
“The following facts show that Heartland is not a “front group”: … Diverse funding base: Heartland has grown slowly over the years by cultivating a diverse base of donors who share its mission. Today it has approximately 2,000 supporters. In 2010 it received 48 percent of its income from foundations, 34 percent from corporations, and 14 percent from individuals. No corporate donor gave more than 5 percent of its annual budget” (http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Heartland_Institute#Diverse_funding_base.2C_reports_Heartland, American Legislative Exchange Council, “Energy, Environment, and Agriculture 2011 Annual Meeting Task Force Meeting,” speaker biographies and materials, August 4, 2011, on file with CMD).
The Heartland Institute is especially dangerous and virulently reactionary due to its role as “clearinghouse for the work of 350 other think tanks and advocacy groups” (http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Heartland_Institute#Diverse_funding_base.2C_reports_Heartland). The group is also a publishing magnate, putting out five monthly newspapers to promote their ideology of corporate control. These publications are:
- Budget & Tax News
- Environment & Climate News
- Health Care News
- Infotech & Telecom News
- School Reform News
Heartland functions as a clearinghouse for the Koch Brothers and ALEC
The Heartland Institute is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as of 2010-2011. It is a member of ALEC’s Telecommunications and Information Technology Task Force, Education Task Force, Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force Financial Services Subcommitteeand Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force.James Taylor, managing editor of the Heartland publication Environment & Climate News, spoke at the Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force meeting at the 2011 ALEC Annual Meeting.Heartland was also an Exhibitor at ALEC’s 2011 Annual Meeting. Heartland has also functioned as a publisher and promoter of ALEC’s model legislation.
The Heartland Institute is only one of many dangerous right wing think tanks that have arisen over the last 38 or so years. Their public policy proposals boil down to giving corporations a free hand in running America without the necessity of messy democracy. They are part and parcel of a neo-enclosure movement working for complete privatization of the public commons and the privatization or even the elimination of any public safety net at the federal, state and local level. Courting the Christian Right the group advocates a mixture of corporate control of economics and politics, what they refer to as ‘free markets’, and faith based charity that would throw our society’s most vulnerable to the wolves of fundamentalist religion and continued capitalism without the gloves. The result is a toxic roux of private and religious control of every day life.
The Heartland Institute’s reactionary attacks against working people, the environmental movement, the civil rights movement, public education, health care and the same sex marriage are all reactionary responses to modernism and the Enlightenment. These are not run-of-the-mill conservatives like your grandfather’s republicans. No, the Heartland Institute is a euphemism for rabid right wing reactionary politics that seeks neo-feudalistic corporate solutions and control, the reversal of civil rights, the elimination of gains made by , LGBT’s, women and labor and the creation of a neo-medieval system of economic and societal hierarchy and control. They are historically part and parcel of the new enclosure movement and they are sure to be a large player both inWisconsinand on a federal level as we head into the 2012 presidential ‘selection’.