What are political think tanks? What are they exactly? How much do they have to do with the idea that our government may be bought? In my final of three articles we will discuss them in detail. They are a major player in American politics as well as global, as we shall see.
These institutions hire leading academics, as well as former diplomats, policymakers and military personnel to study and formulate solutions to pressing national and global policy problems. Representatives from think tanks often testify in congressional hearings and provide depth to news stories with their expert insights. Some of the people who have worked in them are also Nobel laureates.
Most policy institutes are nonprofit organizations, which countries such as the United States and Canada provide with tax-exempt status. Other think tanks are funded by governments, advocacy groups or corporations, and derive revenue from consulting or research work related to their projects.
Nonprofits usually apply for tax-exempt status under 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, which deals with charitable organizations like churches and museums. However, some have transitioned away from the 501(c)(3) nonprofit status in the last decade or so because 501(c)(3) nonprofits can’t have any political involvement, so they have found other routes to directly influence American politics. 501(c)(4), for instance, is reserved for less charitable organizations and allows for political campaigning and lobbying.
The ones that are nonprofit do not have to report who their donors are; that means anyone can donate, which means they can blatantly accept donations from foreign entities as well as corporations and extremely wealthy people.They have no borders either, so they can spread their political agenda globally and make money doing it.
Seriously, these think tanks do hire the best and most influentially intelligent people, including Nobel Prize winners in their particular fields of expertise. During the late ‘40s and early ‘50s, the Rand Corporation had 29 Nobel laureates working for them.
The Rand Corporation (which stands for Research and Development) was started in 1946 by the US Air Force, using people they had relied on previously during WWII to come up with solutions for big problems. These problems included conceiving new weapons, analyzing costs, and evaluating training, combat procedures, and combat targets. They would end up getting a grant from the Ford Foundation, which would allow them to become a nonprofit organization in 1948. The Rand Corporation is still around today. They have consulted with other countries on global policies and world health problems, so they have helped shaped things globally.
Another one to point out is the Cato Institute, which was originally the Koch Foundation. They started out as a Libertarian-based think tank—now they are more neoconservative. They are also affiliated the ALEC bill mill from my first article. It’s also important for everyone to understand that it is the same Koch family who co-opted the Tea Party movement.
I thought I would inform people about this one, because all of these things are intricately connected. The Koch brothers actually sued the Cato Institute over issues with the way it was being run. They dropped the suit upon the retirement of Ed Crane, the former CEO. The Cato Institute has also been mired in several controversies, one of them being the denial of climate change.
There are also liberal think tanks as well, so it’s not just conservative think tanks in the game. The Center for American Progress is a liberal think tank for Democracy Alliance that has its share of controversies as well, including a 2016 WikiLeaks email scandal involving Hillary Clinton’s aides. They were also labeled as an anti-Semitic organization. Another scandal was their organization did not have transparency of their donors, though they did relent a little (even though they did not legally have to) by releasing some of the donors’ names. However, 28 donors were kept hidden.
Among the names, a familiar name shows up: George Soros. Another donor was Walmart. John Podesta, their first CEO, was also the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, and a part of Obama’s White House staff starting back in 2013.
It’s pretty safe to say that everything is connected. Walmart has an interesting connection to all of this because they were a former member of ALEC, so it’s quite possible that they are still playing on both sides of the aisle even though they are no longer affiliated with ALEC.
In conclusion, it seems pretty obvious that politics are bursting with corporate and foreign money from everywhere. Some things are transparent and others are opaque. It will be hard to get corporate and foreign money out of politics, but it is doable if you do your research and educate yourself. Both major parties are using the same tactics to push corporate and foreign influence on us. There are no good guys or bad guys in party politics. The whole thing to me, after digging around just a little bit, seems as tainted as the tap water in Flint, MI. Maybe it’s time for a whole government overhaul.
“We live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups. I ask, in my writing, ‘What is real?’ Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms.” – Philip K. Dick