tagged w/ corporate influence
Here’s what happens when corporations begin to control education.
"When I approached professors to discuss research projects addressing organic agriculture in farmer's markets, the first one told me that 'no one cares about people selling food in parking lots on the other side of the train tracks,’” said a PhD student at a large land-grant university who did not wish to be identified. “My academic adviser told me my best bet was to write a grant for Monsanto or the Department of Homeland Security to fund my research on why farmer's markets were stocked with 'black market vegetables' that 'are a bioterrorism threat waiting to happen.' It was communicated to me on more than one occasion throughout my education that I should just study something Monsanto would fund rather than ideas to which I was deeply committed. I ended up studying what I wanted, but received no financial support, and paid for my education out of pocket."
Unfortunately, she's not alone. Conducting research requires funding, and today's research follows the golden rule: The one with the gold makes the rules.
A report just released by Food and Water Watch examines the role of corporate funding of agricultural research at land grant universities, of which there are more than 100. “You hear again and again Congress and regulators clamoring for science-based rules, policies, regulations,” says Food and Water Watch researcher Tim
Schwab, explaining why he began investigating corporate influence in agricultural research. “So if the rules and regulations and policies are based on science that is industry-biased, then the fallout goes beyond academic articles. It really trickles down to farmer livelihoods and consumer choice.”
The report found that nearly one quarter of research funding at land grant universities now comes from corporations, compared to less than 15 percent from the USDA. Although corporate funding of research surpassed USDA funding at these universities in the mid-1990s, the gap is now larger than ever. What's more, a broader look at all corporate agricultural research, $7.4 billion in 2006, dwarfs the mere $5.7 billion in all public funding of agricultural research spent the same year.
Influence does not end with research funding, however. In 2005, nearly one third of agricultural scientists reported consulting for private industry. Corporations endow professorships and donate money to universities in return for having buildings, labs and wings named for them. Purdue University's Department of Nutrition Science blatantly offers corporate affiliates “corporate visibility with students and faculty” and “commitment by faculty and administration to address [corporate] members' needs,” in return for the $6,000 each corporate affiliate pays annually.
In perhaps the most egregious cases, corporate boards and college leadership overlap. In 2009, South Dakota State's president, for example, joined the board of directors of Monsanto, where he earns six figures each year. Bruce Rastetter is simultaneously the co-founder and managing director of a company called AgriSol Energy and a member of the Iowa Board of Regents. Under his influence, Iowa State joined AgriSol in a venture in Tanzania that would have forcefully removed 162,000 people from their land, but the university later pulled out of the project after public outcry.
What is the impact of the flood of corporate cash? “We know from a number of meta-analyses, that corporate funding leads to results that are favorable to the corporate funder,” says Schwab.
More at the linkHere’s what happens when corporations begin to control education.
The super-rich 1% have plunged us into a debt crisis by refusing to pay their fair share of taxes even as they strain the budget with wars, corporate welfare and bailouts. Now, the crisis they created is their excuse to force us to accept austerity measures.
Led by the Koch brothers and using the Tea Party as a front group, they succeeded in passing a bill that set up a Super Committee charged with drafting legislation by November 23 to slash $1.5 trillion from the federal budget.
If the Super Committee fails to produce a budget reduction plan or if the plan does not become law, spending will be lowered by $1.2 trillion, with $109.3 billion in cuts per year, half of which, $54.7 billion, comes from military spending and the other half from the rest of the budget. These cuts affect both mandatory and discretionary spending with proportionate cuts to both, but Social Security and Medicaid are protected while Medicare providers would see, at most, a two percent reduction in payments.
Why the Supercommittee Should Disband
Defense Contractors Pay Little To No Corporate Income Tax While Earning Billions
Fraudulent defense contractors paid $1 trillion
The dozen Super Committee members are the targets of countless corporate lobbyists and campaign donors working to protect defense contracts and industry subsidies while encouraging spending cuts and privatization for Food Stamps/SNAP, School Meals, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
In the last three months, the Farm Bureau and Biotech have spent $700,000 to influence the Super Committee and stave off cuts to direct payments for commodity producers (most are huge corporations growing Monsanto's genetically engineered crops) by gutting nutrition programs for hungry people.
If Congress had to put each of these deficit reduction measures to a vote, they would lose. Maintaining corporate welfare and tax breaks for the richest 1% by looting programs that serve the working poor and unemployed in a time of economic crisis isn't a good reelection strategy.
The Senate recently voted 84-15 to cut farm subsidies to anyone with an average income over $1 million. They voted 58 to 41 to defeat cuts to Food Stamps/SNAP.
The Super Committee process is designed to avoid votes like that. Congress will have to vote up or down on the debt reduction package without amendments or filibuster.
The Super Committee shuts down democracy. We need to shut down the Super Committee!
Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) has introduced legislation to do just that (H.R.3201). Here's her argument:
More at the linkThe super-rich 1% have plunged us into a debt crisis by refusing to pay their fair... more
British Conservative Party defense secretary Liam Fox is in the midst of scandal that has grown deeper as ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) are revealed. Pressure has been growing on Fox in recent weeks after having been caught in a lie about unethical dealings with his friend and former flatmate, and more ethical problems arising from the operation of a recently-dissolved, ALEC-connected "charity" Fox founded.
Improper Dealings, Friend Given Inappropriate Access
Liam FoxIn June, a businessman had a private meeting with Fox in a Dubai hotel to ask the defense minister to put pressure on United States corporation 3M regarding a $41 million dispute over technology sales. Fox initially claimed the meeting was a chance encounter, but The Guardian revealed that the get-together was organized by Adam Werrity, Fox's longtime friend and the best man at his wedding. A lobbying firm linked to Werrity also received payment for his fixing the meeting.
Werrity was not a public employee and had no security clearances, but had been handing out business cards embossed with Parliament's logo that described him as an "adviser" to Fox. Other evidence suggests Werrity had an inappropriate level of access to British government affairs. He accompanied Fox to meetings with overseas dignitaries like the president of Sri Lanka, and met with Fox multiple times in the defense secretary's offices. Werrity has unofficially been at his friend's side throughout Fox's career, taking director positions at companies in the health industry when Fox was health secretary for the minority party, and moving to the defense industry when Fox became defense secretary.
British newspapers have been closely tracking allegations that Werrity has been profiting off access to Fox, his friend and former flatmate. According to The Guardian, concerns about these types of conflicts-of-interest are "why special advisers now have to be vetted, why they must observe their own code, and why there is a compulsory register of their interests -- these are part of the machinery of good governance about which this government is beginning to look casual." Having an "off-the-books" advisor like Werrity, The Guardian writes, "deprives officials of their essential role as guarantors of the public interest."
Fox had been a star of Britain's Conservative Party, and like ALEC-connected Republicans in the United States, he attacked public employees earlier this year, responding to budget woes by cutting unionized civil service jobs. But the Werrity scandals could be his downfall. Even the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid The Sun said the arrangement with Werrity "oozes access-and-influence" and called for Fox's ouster.
Fox Founded ALEC-Connected Group, Headquarted in Public Office
In a press release (pdf), ALEC described the project as aiming to "foster positive relationships between conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic, so that they may further the ideals exemplified by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher," which some have called an effort to "import U.S.-style conservatism to the U.K." When the project was announced in 2007, ALEC stated that it had 27 European Parliament members "and expects to increase that number substantially through the project." It is unknown how many European politicians are currently ALEC members.
The organization's advisory council as of 2010 consists of Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Arizona), Rep. John Campbell (R-California), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-Sout Carolina), former Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Florida until 2011), Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Connectucut), and Sen James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma). All but Kyl and Lieberman are known ALEC alumni.
Inquiry Into Charitable Status Mirrors U.S. Effort
In July, Common Cause requested that the U.S. Internal Revenue Service conduct a similar inquiry into ALEC for possibly violating its status as a tax-exempt "social welfare" charity under U.S. tax law. As a non-profit organized under section 501(c)(3) of the tax code, "no substantial part" of ALEC's activities can be spent on lobbying, which Common Cause alleges ALEC violates by drafting and affirmatively promoting corporate-sponsored "model legislation." The letter to the IRS concludes:
"By claiming to be a charity and calling participating legislators "members," ALEC attempts to evade disclosure of its lobbying, allows corporate members to deduct their payments as charitable contributions rather than non-deductible lobbying expenses, and does an end-run around state ethics laws intended to restrict the ability of businesses to buy access to legislators in order to promote their policy agendas. The IRS should stop allowing the continuation of this charade".
More at the linkBritish Conservative Party defense secretary Liam Fox is in the midst of scandal that... more
SHOULD PUBLIC MEDIA BE WHOLLY PUBLIC SUPPORTED?
There are questions about NPR and PBS being truly unbiased reporting, considering that they are 90% corporate funded, and only 10% publicly funded.
Therefore, the questions are:
If we believe that the free flow of factual and unbiased information is requisite to maintaining a free and independent people , with a democratic styled government, that we can not get that from coporate owned media, how do we insure ourselves of that free flow of factual and unbiased information.
Do we remodel NPR and PBS, and fund them exclusively with public money,
Do we defund them, and form new public media from the ground up.
However we decide these questions, if we decide to have public media, we must determine how it can be funded without it succumbing to the pressure and influence of politically motivated and constantly changing government administrations. We certainly need truth in publishing laws, in general. Perhaps with entitlement funding, like in the style of social security, public media can function without the acute risk of administrative influence.
Of course, the corporate right will continue to allege that public media; even as it now exists, is dominated by left wing liberal "elites". It is evident that whomever speaks on behalf of the people, will always be viewed as liberal left activists, by the corporate right, who desire to keep the people perpetually uninformed. It is also characteristic of corporate right projection, that they refer to those speaking and acting on behalf of the people, as the elite. If they can sell some, on the guilt of possibly being some form of elite, then perhaps it distracts some from their perpetual campaign and fight to insure that they are the true elite; of wealth and stealth, anyway.SHOULD PUBLIC MEDIA BE WHOLLY PUBLIC SUPPORTED?
There are questions about NPR and... more
Most of the reforms which each of us want to achieve, are wholly predicated upon reclaiming control of our government from corporate interests, who currently have a strangle hold on our government, and ourselves.
Therefore, our first nationwide protest is against Citizens United, coupled with our demand for complete campaign finance reform. We want no corporate influence in government, in any form. We want Citizens United nullified because two Supreme Court judges were biased and prejudiced by inducements from a party affiliated with the case.
Please coordinate your nationwide protest movements through USUncut.org. The site is self explanatory. We encourage a perpetual protest at every capitol in the country, with a 4 day march on Washington, from May 5th, thru May 8th. It is very important to present ourselves in Washington "in numbers too big to ignore".
If you have ever complained about any government policy or action, the time to do something about it, IS NOW!Most of the reforms which each of us want to achieve, are wholly predicated upon... more
Corporate influences in politics interferes with holding elected official accountable.
Not-yet-public documents reviewed by House ethics investigators have revealed lobbyists and corporate officials talking bluntly in e-mail exchanges about connections between making generous campaign donations and securing federal funds through members of an important House Appropriations subcommittee.Not-yet-public documents reviewed by House ethics investigators have revealed... more
In a first-year pharmacology class at Harvard Medical School, Matt Zerden grew wary as the professor promoted the benefits of cholesterol drugs and seemed to belittle a student who asked about side effects.
Mr. Zerden later discovered something by searching online that he began sharing with his classmates. The professor was not only a full-time member of the Harvard Medical faculty, but a paid consultant to 10 drug companies, including five makers of cholesterol treatments.
Let's rid our campuses of all corporate influence.In a first-year pharmacology class at Harvard Medical School, Matt Zerden grew wary as... more