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Pennies From Heaven

The word philanthropy first appears in Western thought in the fifth century BC to denote an act of rebellion and name the crime of treason.

Lapham’s Quartly

Lapham’s Quarterly Summer 2015: Philanthropy

by Lewis H. Lapham

Lapham Image

Prometheus Bringing Fire to Mankind, by Friedrich Heinrich Füger, 1817. Neue Galerie, Kassel, Germany.

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. —The Gospel According to Matthew

But if the rich men are left standing around on earth with the camels, wherefrom the pennies that drop from the skies of philanthropy? Who carries up the treasure to the pay windows in heaven? At what altitude does hard coin resolve itself into dew, and so fall, gently like rain, on the sorrow and heat of the desert? How high the cloud level before greed becomes good?

These questions inform the discussion of the philanthropic largesse that in America over the last fifty years has become a very big business. Big enough to warrant the casting of suspicion on its motives, doubt on its objectives, stones at its privileges. Scolding voices in the media and Congress lobby for the adage that the mark of a good deed is its not going unpunished, and the increasingly harsh tone of the complaints—philanthropy as false front for funding a political campaign, as setup for a tax dodge, preservation of a family fortune, whiteout of a criminal rap sheet—rises to the occasion of the national economy’s nonprofit sector becoming an ever larger part of the whole. The most recent numbers available from the Urban Institute speak to the presence of divinity.

Nonprofit organizations report over $4.8 trillion in total assets, $2.16 trillion in total revenues, $2.03 trillion in total expenses.

Nonprofit organizations account for 5.4 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, roughly 10 percent of all wages and salaries, $887 billion in annual spending.

Total annual private giving (from individuals, foundations, and businesses) in the amount of $335 billion.

Around 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the United States, roughly one for every 213 Americans, to which more than one in four Americans volunteered an estimated 8.1 billion hours of work valued at $163 billion.

So glorious a concentration of wealth makes a joyful noise unto the Lord; the accounting for its uses opens a Pandora’s box from which swarms forth a screech of lawyers. Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code bestows tax exemptions on nonprofit enterprises recognized as “religious, charitable, scientific,testing for public safety,literary,or educational,”but a string of handsomely abstract adjectives doesn’t furnish clear definition of the noun philanthropy. Among the vast multitude of would-be loaves and fishes, how to distinguish those that are morally wholesome, financially sound, socially nourishing? Where is it written that all good intentions are good, and which ones escape or deserve being nailed to a cross? Does support for the Metropolitan Museum of Art require equal protection for the San Francisco Bay smelt?

The questions follow from a careless use of the term philanthropy (“love of humanity” in the ancient Greek) as a catch-all synonym embracing different forms of its expression in societies past and present, among them those noted in this issue of Lapham’s Quarterly under the headings of Sumerian debt forgiveness, Roman bread and circuses, Muslim almsgiving, Chinook potlatch, Catholic charity and sin removal, Protestant good works, democratic government.

 

The deed is everything, the glory naught.

– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1832

Although endowed over the centuries with many benevolent connotations (compassion, forbearance, kindness, humility), the word philanthropy first appears in Western thought in the fifth century BC, in Aeschylus’ play Prometheus Bound to name an act of rebellion and denote the crime of treason. Alone among the deities on Mount Olympus, the Titan Prometheus takes pity on the “sad, care-laden” human race living like “ants in sunless caves,” their every act without hope or direction, “dayflies” lost in meaningless confusion. Zeus intends to delete the species and “grow another one more to his liking.” Prometheus would have it otherwise. Disposed to the love of humanity (for reasons left unstated, but none of them to do with grace or wit or beauty), he steals the “bright and dancing fire” of the gods and gives to mortal men its “wonderworking power”—heat and light, but also freedom of thought, the stores of memory and the arts of divination, knowledge of numbers and letters, of medicine, carpentry, animal husbandry, and astronomy.

Prometheus thus defies the will and tyranny of Zeus “by granting mortals honor above their due,” and the punishment is merciless—his immortal flesh bound in chains, nailed to a barren rock at the far limit of the world, condemned to endure relentless torture “through endless time.”

The godlike powers transferred by Prometheus as unrestricted gift to mortal men serve their purpose at sea level, here on earth with the hummingbirds and the camels, their saving grace not deferred until the beneficiaries attain celestial cruising speed. The society that was Hellenic Athens didn’t assign high real estate values to an afterlife, and the rich men within the polis, their formidable wealth placing them at Promethean cloud level, were expected (expected, not obliged) to provide, at their own and often ruinous expense, enhancements of the public spirit and the common good—votive offerings, sacrifices and temples, gymnasia, festivals, games, banquets, the outfitting of naval vessels, and the staging of plays.

Generosity was virtue, the value of money the having it to give away. The reward was double-edged—the pleasure inherent in the act of freely giving, the honor for doing so a gift freely bestowed by one’s fellow citizens. Honor, not gratitude. As long as the haves placed a higher value in their stores of virtue than on their hoards of wealth, the have-nots could look to them in admiration instead of with envy and resentment. Pericles delivering his funeral oration in 431 BC (the first year of the Peloponnesian War) praises Athenians as patrons of the public good, willing to make noble expenditures (of their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor) to preserve the city’s freedoms of thought and action.

The happy state of affairs didn’t survive the war with Sparta. The government of Athens fell into the grasp of an oligarchy afflicted with the disease diagnosed by the ancient Greeks as pleonexia, the pathological craving for more—more property, more publicity, more bling. Athens divided into a city of the poor and a city of the rich, one at war with the other and neither inclined to temper its bitterness in the interest of the common good. Aristotle mentions a faction of especially reactionary oligarchs who swear an oath of selfishness: “I will be an adversary of the people…and in the Council I will do it all the evil that I can.” (So, too, our Republican members of Congress obliged to sign Grover Norquist’s pledge opposing any and all efforts to increase marginal income-tax rates.)

IMAGE:Adele Bloch-Bauer I, by Gustav Klimt, 1907. © Neue Galerie, New York, USA/De Agostini Picture Library/E. Lessing /Bridgeman Images

Democracy congealing into oligarchy conformed to Aristotle’s theorem of governments changing form in a sequence as certain as the changing of the seasons. Regimes come and go, but the have-nots always outnumber the haves, and no matter what the political name of the game (monarchy, aristocracy, or democracy), the well-being of the less-fortunate many, says Aristotle, must always depend on the philanthropy of a privileged few who give direction to dayflies, light to ants in sunless caves.

 

This issue of Lapham’s Quarterly comes with a follow-up question: To what extent does the glorious concentration of wealth lovingly noted by the Urban Institute portend relief from the diseased oligarchy that for the past forty years has proclaimed itself the enemy of the American democracy, and vows to do all the evil it can to a government of the people, by the people, for the people?

One would like to think the odds favor if not full recovery, at least remission of the illness. Americans in their daily dealings with one another prove themselves unfailingly open-hearted and forbearing; among the world’s peoples few are more generous in the giving of money, time, and effort to the practice of philanthropy. Confronted with sudden misfortune or disastrous accident (the flooding of New Orleans, the bombing of the World Trade Center) they respond with heartfelt outpourings of voluntary assistance. Wealthy patrons of humanity furnish the country with its expensive collection of museums, orchestras, hospitals, libraries, colleges, universities, churches, and football teams—more or less the same goods and services distributed in pagan antiquity by the selfless and therefore self-ennobling rich in the form of amphitheaters, baths, aqueducts, menageries of wild beasts, sacrificial pairs of gladiators.

 

It is more blessed to give than to receive.

– Acts of the Apostles, 80

Add to the inventory of America’s goodwill the Christian love of humanity arising among the poor and for the poor, from the presence of God within all men. The Greek and Roman patrons of the public good bestowed their gifts on citizens belonging to the city or the state, not on slaves, outcasts, beggars, immigrants. Neither Pericles nor Caesar recognized a human life form classified simply as “the poor.” The grouping suited the political ambition of the Christian church rising on the ruins of the Roman Empire in the fourth century, the congregations of the faithful drawn from the vast throng of have-nots littering the shores of the Mediterranean and bound together in a commonwealth of suffering. The Christian theologian Tertullian refutes the pagan faith in wealth: “Nothing sacred is to be had for money….We have all drunk of one and the same Holy Spirit…are all delivered as it were from one common womb of ignorance, and called out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Lactantius, early father of the Christian church, says, “The only true and certain obligation is to feed the needy and useless…men may have no use for them, but God has.”

It is Thomas Paine, the incendiary voice of the American Revolution, who in the eighteenth century converts the Christian love of humanity (shared among equals in the lower strata of society) into the promise of democratic self- government—“The strength of government and the happiness of the governed” is the freedom of the common people to “mutually and naturally support each other.” One’s fellow citizens are to be held in honorable regard not because they are rich or notably generous but because they are one’s fellow citizens.

The abundance of Paine’s writings flows from the springs of his optimism. Celebrating the declaring of independence as “the birthday of a new world,” he counts himself a friend of the world’s happiness, invariably in favor of a new beginning and a better deal. His plan for a just society is set forth in Rights of Man, published in England in two volumes, in 1791 and 1792; it anticipates much of the legislation that shows up 150 years later in the United States under the rubrics of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal—government welfare payments to the poor, pensions for the elderly, public funding of education, reduction in military spending.The sale of 500,000 copies prompted the British government to charge its author with treason—the same crime committed by Prometheus in defiance of the will and tyranny of Zeus.

Traveling in America in 1831 and 1832, the French aristocrat Alexis de Tocqueville finds democracy to be a work in progress along the lines projected by Paine, the common people mutually supporting one another by forming associations to hold fêtes, found seminaries, build inns, establish hospitals, dispatch missionaries, distribute books. “When the world was controlled by a small number of powerful and wealthy individuals,” says Tocqueville, “they liked to advertise how glorious it is to forget oneself and how fitting it is to do good without self- interest just like God himself…In the United States, the beauty of virtue is almost never promoted. It is considered useful and this is proved daily.”

The fact of which Walt Whitman was daily reminded during his three years as a Civil War hospital volunteer attending to sick and wounded soldiers both Union and Confederate. He notes in his diary that he’d sat next to the cots of as many as a hundred thousand frightened young men, talking to them at length, distributing gifts of writing paper or tobacco, a stamped envelope, an apple or an orange, small pieces of money. From his experience with others like him on his hospital rounds, he learns “one thing conclusively—that beneath all the ostensible greed and heartlessness of our times there is no end to the generous benevolence of men and women in the United States, when once sure of their object. Another thing became clear to me—while cash is not amiss to bring up the rear, tact and magnetic sympathy and unction are, and ever will be, sovereign still.”

 

Governments reflect the quality of the men charged with their conduct and deportment. Within the Greek city states, as also in republican and imperial Rome, the record shows that as wealth accumulates, men decay. An aristocracy that once might have aspired to wisdom and virtue degenerates into an oligarchy distinguished by a character that Aristotle likened to that of “the prosperous fool”—its members so besotted by their faith in money “they therefore imagine there is nothing that it cannot buy.”

Which, most if not all things considered, was the way things were going during America’s late nineteenth-century Gilded Age, so named by Mark Twain to denote a society amounting to the sum of its vanity and greed, so seen by Andrew Carnegie as a parasitical oligarchy devouring the happiness of the many to feed the pleasures of the few. Twain is defender of the democratic motions of the heart, Carnegie the progenitor of what in the twentieth century becomes large-scale philanthropic enterprise established by wealthy patrons of the common good.

Born in poverty in Scotland, Carnegie moved with his immigrant family to Allegheny, Pennsylvania, in 1848; as a boy of twelve, he was working twelve hours a day in a cotton mill. By 1889 he is owner of dark satanic steel mills in Pittsburgh, a captain of industry, abundantly rich, fearful for the future of a country herding its working classes into the shambles of desperate, possibly communist, revolt. That same year he brings forth “The Gospel of Wealth” as remedy for all the ills that overfed capitalist flesh is heir to. The manifesto first appeared in the North American Review, offered by its author as “the true antidote for the temporary unequal distribution of wealth, the reconciliation of the rich and the poor.” Let the rich men throughout the land give over their great fortunes before they die for the use of the living, and “we shall have an ideal state, in which the surplus wealth of the few will become, in the best sense, the property of the many.” Better yet, the rich man acts as trustee and agent for his “poorer brethren,” grants the blessing of his “superior wisdom,” directs the money to its best uses—to dignified public works, never in the form of alms in trifling amounts to “the drunken, the slothful, the unworthy.” Like Cicero in 44 BC, Carnegie distinguished between the deserving and undeserving poor. So did Ralph Waldo Emerson in 1841 in his essay “Self-Reliance”, “I tell thee, thou foolish philanthropist, that I grudge the dollar, the dime, the cent I give to such men as do not belong to me.” He blames himself for sometimes having given “alms to sots.”

Carnegie’s philanthropy was pagan, not Christian. The reward was honor, not gratitude. A rich man who dies with his wealth intact, he said, “dies disgraced.” It didn’t occur to him to relieve the poverty of the workers in his mills (twelve-hour shifts, paltry wages, crowded and filthy housing), but he did his best to leave no money on the table of his life. When in 1901 he sold his steel mills to J.P. Morgan for $480 million he became the richest man in America; before he died in 1919 he gave away $350 million to the building of 2,811 libraries in America’s cities and towns, to the setting up of numerous institutes and foundations.

The big American foundations formed during the first half of the twentieth century—Rockefeller, Ford, Pew, Sage, Rosenwald, Kellogg—deployed Carnegie’s lines of reasoning and priority.They pursued large-scale projects based on scientific research—the eradication of yellow fever and malaria, the restoration of colonial Williamsburg, the preservation of the Hudson River Palisades.

The good intentions multiplied over the course of the next hundred years, as did the number of foundations lobbying for social and political change, backing civil and human rights initiatives, funding think tanks grouped around the ideological campfires on both the left and the right.

The storylines are appropriately multicultural and diverse, not subject to equal opportunity generalization. What little I know of them I borrow from Mark Dowie’s American Foundations: An Investigative History, published in 2001. Dowie notes that the governance of big foundations eventually passes down over generations from the Promethean figure present at the creation to staffs of foundation officials, philanthrocrats apt to be more concerned about the safety and well-being of the money under their care than about the uses to which it might be put. The law requires the country’s 86,000 grantmaking foundations to distribute every year a minimum of 5 percent of their endowments, but if carefully managed, even that minimum need not leave the premises. The tax returns filed by the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation in 2013 teach the self-promoting lesson. The foundation received more than $140 million in grants and contributions but squandered only $8.8 million on direct aid and research projects, reserving $30 million for payroll and employee benefits, $8.7 million for rent and office expenses, $9.2 million for conferences, conventions, and meetings, $8 million for fundraising, and nearly $8.5 million for travel.

Dowie’s investigation fits with Dwight Macdonald’s account of his meeting in 1955 with the “forty-odd philanthropoids, who, for all practical purposes, are the Ford Foundation.” Assigned by The New Yorker to review the proceedings in what was then the foundation’s new headquarters building on Madison Avenue, Macdonald found the office staff conversing in foundationese—“like Latin, a dead language…designed for ceremony rather than utility. Its function is magical and incantatory—not to give information or to communicate ideas or to express feelings.” Gilded functionaries loyal to the will and tyranny of Zeus, intent upon preserving rather than overturning the status quo.

The character and intent of the early generation of philanthropy I learned to appreciate in the person of John D. Rockefeller III, grandson of the nineteenth-century oil baron, son of the early-twentieth-century philanthropist, elder brother of David and Nelson Rockefeller. John III was the member of the family entrusted to carry forward its tradition of philanthropic largesse, a task he had performed with skill and determination since his graduation from Princeton in 1929, but one for which his chief publicist in 1963 thought he hadn’t received proper recognition. His brother Nelson was governor of New York, his brother David the president of Chase Manhattan Bank, their names in the papers nine mornings out of ten but nowhere a mention of John, who had created the Asia Society and the Population Council and provided strong support for the International Rice Research Institute in Manila, and who was putting together the $184 million needed to complete the building of Lincoln Center on the west side of Manhattan.

I was employed that year as a writer for the Saturday Evening Post when the publicist called to ask if I would consider traveling with John III to Asia for three months with a view to writing an article about his various projects underway in Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand, India, East and West Pakistan. I would have access to any and all meetings and negotiations with government officials, bankers, scientists, politicians, and I was to be paid a per diem, with John III reserving the right to review the completed manuscript and, if so inclined, to forestall its publication.

IMAGE:Portrait of Sir Francis Ford’s Children Giving a Coin to a Beggar Boy, by William Beechey, 1793. Tate Museum, London.

I had no objection. I didn’t care whether the article was published or not; I was being given a chance to see the world from a high elevation of wealth and power, as it might have looked to Prometheus from the heights of Olympus. Every year for twelve years John III had been making the same journey (concentrating on the problem of birth control and high-yield plantings of rice), and at all points on the itinerary he was met with honors befitting royalty—cars on the airport tarmac, receptions at the palace, banquets with the prime minister. His knowledge of various Asian societies was profound, as was his delight in each of the people to whom he introduced me in the hope I might catch sight of their value as singular human beings. Not once in three months did he not know the name of the person to whom he was talking—the name, the pronunciation of the name, the family story, the problem at hand, the detail of the particular circumstance. Although he was a tall and imposing figure, he was modest to a fault, shy in the company of scholars and politicians, hesitant in the expression of his emotions.

Maya Angelou once said she found that “among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.” So it was with John D. Rockefeller III. His philanthropy was his escape from the prison of his shyness, his becoming part of the larger story that is the sharing in man’s love for his fellow man. The Chinese philosopher Mencius came upon the thought around 330 bc. “Not to be benevolent when nothing stands in the way is to show a lack of wisdom. A man neither benevolent nor wise, devoid of courtesy and dutifulness, is a slave.”

The article was never published. The Population Council’s attempt to encourage birth control in Taiwan, India, and Pakistan went against the grain of local sentiment and politics, and John III believed it counterproductive to advertise these difficulties in print. To do so might cause trouble for his friends running the clinics in Asia. Self-glorifying publicity in New York wasn’t worth the price of a doctor’s loss of face in Dhaka.

 

The times have changed. Billionaire philanthropists these days delight in the photo ops of their giving to the public good, stepping down from helicopter or horse to baptize their new naming opportunity of a football stadium or concert hall. Their magnificence recalls the story told by the Stoic philosopher Seneca in the first century about Alexander the Great presenting the gift of an entire city to a man who didn’t think himself deserving of it. “I do not ask what is becoming for you to receive,” replied Alexander, “but what is becoming for me to give.”

 

Charity is murder and you know it.

– Dorothy Parker, 1956

The displays of noble expenditure (on the part of movie stars and prime- time athletes as well as George Soros and the Koch brothers) derive from the far larger stores of private wealth created over the past forty years as a consequence of the systematic rigging of the nation’s economic outcomes to favor the rich at the expense of the poor. The familiar story (democracy smothered by oligarchy) has often been told—long ago by Aristotle, more recently in our American context by the Nobel Prize–winning economist Joseph Stiglitz—but it is nowhere better illustrated than by the reversal over the past half century of the meaning within the words public and private. In the 1950s the word public connoted an inherent good (public health, public school, public service, public spirit); private was a synonym for selfishness and greed (plutocrats in top hats, pigs at troughs). The connotations traded places in the 1980s. Private now implies all things bright and beautiful (private trainer, private school, private plane), public becomes a synonym for all things ugly and dangerous (public housing, public welfare, public toilet).

The repositioning of the words underwrites the gospel according to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which, among the current generation of big-time philanthropies, is the fairest of them all. It commands an endowment of $43.5 billion (roughly a third of that sum added to its pot by Warren Buffett), and because of its size and market share it points the direction for much of the nation’s foundation giving. No week goes by without the announcement of another Gates Foundation grant meant to allay disease in Africa, improve test scores in American public schools.

A self-made Promethean figure in the image of Carnegie, Gates also looks to avoid the disgrace of dying rich. To the small company of his fellow billionaires he wrote a letter in 2010 suggesting they give, “during your lifetime or through your will,” the majority of their wealth to charity. To help “improve the overall quality” of their giving he offers the superior wisdom of a man who knows that private profit and public good are mutual friends, that doing well is doing good. The thought is as tried and true as the metaphor that Cotton Mather, the seventeenth-century Puritan divine, bestowed upon the Boston faithful in 1701: “A Christian, at his two callings, is a man in a boat, rowing for heaven” with two oars, one of them glorifying God “by doing good for others,” the other by “getting of good for himself.”

Gates repackaged the good news as a speech delivered to the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, in 2008:

“I like to call this idea creative capitalism…Such a system would have a twin mission: making profits and also improving lives of those who don’t fully benefit from today’s market forces…a market-based reward for good behavior.”

The gospel was well received in the temples of the god who also is Mammon; the foundation clergy have learned to come and go speaking of metrics, time frames, benchmarks, grantmaking made “cost-effective,” “impact-oriented,” “data-based.” The language is designed for ceremony, “magical and incantatory” assigning virtue to having and holding wealth, not to letting it wander away, unescorted, into the sorrow and heat of the desert. Philanthrocapitalism opening the golden door to the best of all futures that money can buy, nourishing the belief (very à la mode in the media shiny sheets) that it is the big-ticket, glamorous rich who will rescue the country from ruin.

IMAGE:Nectanebo I presenting an offering to a crocodile-headed demon, dolerite relief, Egypt, fourth century BC. © De Agostini Picture Library/A. Dagli Orti/Bridgeman Images

The hope springs from the publicity from whence the money cometh, not in the accounting for whither it goest. The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy estimates that only 8 percent of foundations in the United States bestow as much as 25 percent of their largesse on “social justice purposes.” In 2011 the wealthiest Americans, those with earnings in the top 20 percent, contributed an average of 1.3 percent of their income to charity. Americans in the bottom 20 percent, and therefore unable to itemize a tax deduction, donated 3.2 percent.

Dowie suggests the stores of private wealth likely to be accumulated over the next two generations could increase the total assets of organized philanthropy to $4 trillion. It’s an impressive number, but small in comparison with the money likely to be furnished by individual contributions that now add hundreds of billions of dollars to most of the country’s charitable enterprises set up as credit unions and health clinics, food and wind-power cooperatives, crowdfunding platforms.

The opulent foundations tend to believe that money is good for rich people, bad for poor people, best given to private institutions or public acronyms; they seek the honor of being praised, as did the wealthy suppliers of the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome, “for doing good without self-interest, just like God himself.” Their philanthropy, like that of Carnegie and Gates, is the giving of direction to dayflies. The philanthropy inherent in democracy as conceived by Paine, attested by Tocqueville, practiced by Whitman, is the care of other human beings, virtue “considered useful,” almost never gloriously promoted. A democratic society places a premium on equality; a capitalist economy does not. The separation of powers is the difference between the worth of a thing and the price of a thing, between the motions of the heart and the movement of a market. Plato in the Republic puts the proposition as simply as it can be put:

“As wealth and the wealthy are valued more in a city, so goodness and the good are valued less…what is valued at any particular time becomes the common practice, what is not valued is neglected.”

Governments reflect the quality of the men charged with their conduct and deportment. Relief from “the ostensible greed and heartlessness of our times” (Whitman’s phrase in 1864 as telling now as then) doesn’t fall in a shower of gold from the heaven that is a $95 million apartment on the ninety-fifth floor of a Manhattan co-op. It collects in pennies on the ground, from people who don’t confuse themselves with God, who know, as did Walt Whitman, that love, not money, is “sovereign still.”

UN as Corporate Clubhouse

Public Good Project

August 15, 2015

By Jay Taber

The UN as a corporate clubhouse — where billionaires like convicted inside-trader George Soros and anti-trust arch enemy Bill Gates swagger with Bono  — began in 1947 with John D. Rockefeller, Jr.’s purchase of six blocks in Manhattan for UN Headquarters. Since then, global initiatives sponsored by the UN Security Council, Human Rights Council, Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, World Health Organization, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Social and Economic Development programs have all born the mark of Wall Street. Indeed, privatization and other acts of corporate aggression against democracy and indigenous sovereignty have benefited beyond belief from UN support, leading to the incontestable conclusion that the UN is a dishonest broker.

 

[Jay Taber has served as communications director at Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and activists engaged in defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations. Email: tbarj [at] yahoo.com Website: www.jaytaber.com]

Distorting Reality

Public Good Project

By Jay Taber

network-independent-elites

For those who had high hopes for The Real News Network, the TRNN love fest with social capitalists like Naomi Klein and other con artists on Wall Street’s payroll — laundered by foundations like Ford, Rockefeller and NoVo — comes as a disappointment. So it should come as no surprise that TRNN start-up money ($350,000) came from Ford and MacArthur foundations. Two thirds of TRNN ongoing operating revenue comes from the rich.

After doting on Ms. Klein’s magical social revolution (funded by the Rockefeller Brothers and Warren Buffett), TRNN is now promoting Klein, et al’s “new economy,” that aims to place all control of social change in the hands of Wall Street front groups like 350, Avaaz, Ceres and Purpose. The solution to looting of state treasuries by financial institutions, according to social capitalists featured on TRNN, is to create non-profit co-ops that are dependent on philanthropy.

TRNN strategy is limited by dependency on capitalism, which funds them as gatekeepers. They offer liberals a place for venting rage, then point them toward false solutions, promoted by other capitalist-dependent liberals. TRNN has never exposed the brainwashing of liberal capitalism, because they are part of it.

Ironically, the only funding for research on violent white supremacy in the US has come from MacArthur and Ford. All my liberal colleagues take Ford or MacArthur money, and consequently have kept silent about Ford’s role in global privatization, as well as continental ethnic cleansing of indigenous peoples.

Their research is valuable, but they are reluctant to acknowledge the significant contribution Public Good Project has made to their work, because we also expose Ford Foundation fraud. Until they and TRNN divorce themselves from this dependency, their message will continue distorting reality by omission.

 

[Jay Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, a correspondent to Forum for Global Exchange, and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as communications director at Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and activists engaged in defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations.]

Avaaz: the World’s Most Powerful NGO

A Culture of Imbeciles

Patel (to the left of Al Gore) delivers a petition to UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon at the People’s Climate March in New York City, Sept. 21, 2014
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In his classic orientation to American politics, Indispensable Enemies, Walter Karp described conflict between the two national political parties as largely a game of charades–choreographed by Wall Street. While party loyalists are quick to point out differences over religion and civil rights, the point Karp makes is that they both serve Wall Street, which means America is now a bi-partisan fascist oligarchy.

Since the Reagan administration, both parties have worked overtime to privatize public wealth, and to manipulate social movements to their advantage. While it is well-known that the Wise Use Movement, Christian Coalition and the Tea Party used bigotry to advance Republican interests, little attention has been paid to social engineering by the Democrats.

As affiliated entities, MoveOn, 1Sky, Avaaz, Ceres, Purpose and 350 enable the Democratic Party to market itself as a friend of the environment and supporter of democracy, while simultaneously serving Wall Street’s agenda. What those familiar with serious fraud might call “the long con”.

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Jeremy Heimans (co-founder of Avaaz and Purpose) at The Economist’s Ideas Economy: Human Potential conference. | Photo: Taylor Davidson

Short cons include “humanitarian war” and carbon market schemes like fossil fuel divestment, that support American imperialism by consolidating Wall Street control of institutions, markets and NGOs. Using foundations as intermediaries, the fascist oligarchy on the Democrat side has a legal money laundry for promoting such fraud as the “new economy”.

As Cory Morningstar described The Art of Social Engineering by Avaaz, “Funded by the ruling class oligarchy, the role they serve for their funders is not unlike that of corporate media. Yet, it appears that global society is paralyzed in a collective hypnosis – rejecting universal social interests, thus rejecting reason, to instead fall in line with the position of the powerful minority that has seized control, a minority that systematically favours corporate interests.”

Meanwhile, sister organizations of Avaaz work with elites like Rockefeller, Gates and Soros in “shaping global society by utilizing and building upon strategic psychological marketing, soft power, technology and social media.” “More importantly,” notes Morningstar, “The non-profit industrial complex must be understood as a mainspring and the instrument of power, the very support and foundation of imperial domination.”

As Morningstar continues, ‘Global society has been, and continues to be, manipulated to believe that NGOs are representative of “civil society” which has allowed the “humanitarian industrial complex” to become missionaries of empire.’ In this brave new world, NGOs like Avaaz, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch lead civil society in supporting American hegemony through military intervention.

In Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Morningstar reports that Avaaz is the operational name of the Global Engagement and Organizing Fund, a non-profit organization incorporated in 2006. Founded by ResPublica and the Democratic Party front group MoveOn, the core purpose of Avaaz was to build US influence in the Middle East and Asia. ResPublica is led by Tom Perriello, Ricken Patel, and Tom Pravda.

Open Society Institute – created by convicted hedge fund inside trader George Soros – is a major funder of Avaaz, MoveOn and Human Rights Watch. Avaaz destabilization campaigns in Libya, Syria and Bolivia demonstrate the value of NGOs in exercising “soft power” to overthrow foreign regimes hostile to American dominance. As a close friend of President Obama, Perriello was one of the most pro-war Democrats in Congress.

Obama&Perriello

In Welcome to the Brave New World, Morningstar examines Perriello’s career and relationship with war criminals like Obama and his former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. (Both Avaaz and 350 board members supported the attack on Syria.) Avaaz, says Morningstar, is arguably “the world’s most powerful NGO.”

Smooth Talkers: Marketing Imperial Civil Society

Skookum

Sept 29, 2014

By Jay Taber

George+W+Bush+Bill+Clinton+Obama+Former+Presidents+Vq-CPtx2fuSx

After the Vietnam War, big dogs in the Democratic Party transitioned from belligerent blowhards to smooth talkers. The party of cold warriors became hot stuff. Capitalizing on the popular subculture of peace and love, the Democrats under President Clinton initiated the era of “humanitarian” war. As such, American hegemony could be repackaged as philanthropic.

Ironically, the breakthrough in marketing imperial civil society came about as a result of Clinton’s misadventures with his Oval Office intern Monica Lewinsky. When Big Dog got caught with his pants down, the Democratic Party turned to social media for support. Mobilizing support through the NGO MoveOn, Democrats were able to turn a national embarrassment into an organizing opportunity. As time went on, social media would prove to be a useful tool for social engineering.

As servants of Wall Street, the Democrats — through MoveOn — began what would become a tsunami of deceptive devices, from Avaaz to Purpose. As pro-war promoters, these NGOs were able to divert attention from high crimes and focus public attention on false pretenses, in turn used to justify perpetual militarism. With the capture of boards at nominally progressive NGOs like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, the neoliberals represented by Clinton introduced a sophisticated new psychological warfare element to the public arena.

With laundered funding aplenty — available through neoliberal foundations like Clinton, Gates, Soros, Ford and Rockefeller — Wall Street (with help from Madison Avenue) has managed to consolidate its war-making portfolio of investments, while simultaneously acquiring a controlling interest in big international NGOs. As civil society institutions (living on pre-coup residual creds), the NGOs, in turn, legitimate the neoliberal incarnation of fascism.

As the architect of NAFTA, Clinton’s bonafides on Wall Street are rock solid. While his star faded as a result of the 1999 WTO Ministerial in Seattle, the Clinton Global Initiative to implement Wall Street’s Millenium Development Goals seems to have resurrected his pathetic leadership to gold. Perhaps — like his Wag the Dog war in Sudan — in time, the memory of Clinton sucking up to the daughter of Uzbekistan’s president (known for boiling his political opponents alive) in order to finance his foundation (on proceeds from slave labor) will be forgotten.

 

[Jay Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, a correspondent to Fourth World Eye, and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as the administrative director of Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and activists engaged in defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples seeking justice in such bodies as the European Court of Human Rights and the United Nations.]

Skirting “The Real News” [Network]

Skookum

Sept 23, 2014

by Jay Taber

 

realnewsnetwork

 

It’s fine that Hedges and DeChristopher decry frauds like Jones, but given 350’s many hoaxes funded by Wall Street (i.e. KXL, Clean Energy, Divestment, New Economy), when are independent journalists going to examine Klein and 350, itself a Big Green NGO on the payroll of Rockefeller Brothers and Warren Buffett. If you’re going to investigate major fraud, you might want to get real about the agenda of Avaaz, Purpose and 350. Skirting around the issue of hijacked activism that 350 represents aids Wall Street, not Main Street.

 

 

[Jay Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, a correspondent to Forum for Global Exchange, and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as communications director at Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and activists engaged in defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations. Email: tbarj [at] yahoo.com Website: www.jaytaber.com]

Divest-Invest Shell Game

A Culture of Imbeciles

Sept 22, 2014

lucy-tricks-charlie-brown

 

One of the recurring scenes in the iconic comic strip Charlie Brown is the one where his sister Lucy holds the ball for Charlie to kick, promising not to move the ball at the last second, thereby causing Charlie to tumble backward when she always does. Humiliated time after time by Lucy’s sadistic antics, Charlie — trusting soul that he is — never fails to fall for Lucy’s promise, that this time she won’t pull the same trick as before.

I thought of Charlie Brown and Lucy reading the announcement of “major commitments” on the eve of the UN Summit on Climate Change. Having moved the ball at Poznan, Copenhagen, Cancun and Durban — thus causing progressive greens to take a tumble — the UN, Wall Street, and big international NGOs (BINGOs) are now asking recently enraptured climateers to give them another chance to prove themselves trustworthy.

After successfully bewitching the greens into falling for college campus fossil fuel divestment in the US — which helped Wall Street consolidate its fossil fuel control — Wall Street, et al are now cooking up an international carbon copy of this hoax to capitalize on the euphoria of climate week. Aiding such nefarious groups as Avaaz, Purpose and 350 in this blissful deception are some good people (like Desmond Tutu) — recruited for his celebrity and credibility — as well as frauds like Bill Clinton.

The Divest-Invest shell game — like the COP meetings, REDD carbon market fiasco, and the Keystone XL charade — requires suspenion of disbelief (once again), and determined engagement in wishful thinking. When they begin swooning over oil tycoon heirs as their new heroes, the greens demonstrate their boundless capacity for self-delusion.

As we saw with the enchanting Charms of Naomi, the mystique of mass hypnosis is a simple matter of the prescribed art of social engineering. Having captivated a gullible audience, in a state of ecstasy after their euphoric march in blue, makes beguiling the credulous child’s play. Like they say, ignorance is bliss.

Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse – Part IV | Buffett Acquires the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

$26 Million Shades of Grey

 

September 10, 2014

 

Part four of an investigative report by Cory Morningstar

Keystone XL Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IV

Tar Sands Action & the Paralysis of a Movement – Investigative Report Series [Further Reading, September, 2011]: Part I Part II  [Obedience – A New Requirement for the “Revolution”] Part III [ Unravelling the Deception of a False Movement]

 

Ignoring the Fact that the Oligarchs Finance the “Movements” | TIDES

The United States of America is not a democracy, but an oligarchy – with the rich controlling government decisions and the average American having practically zero influence over public policies. Some call it a capitalist dictatorship, where “capital” does the dictating.

Here’s a good example of the oligarchy controlling the puppets. During the last four years, Americans have been coerced into focusing on a single, symbolic campaign to Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline. This campaign was funded in large part by the Tides Foundation, which distributes the funds (from other foundations) to qualifying NGOs and groups. The number one funder of the Tides Foundation leading up to and during this time period was none other than the NoVo Foundation, founded on monies provided by Warren Buffett. [“NoVo was created in 2006 after Warren Buffett pledged to donate 350,000 shares of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. stock to the foundation.”] It is maintained by Warren Buffett’s son, Peter Buffett (co-chair) and Peter’s partner, Jennifer Buffett (president and co-chair).

Ten-Top-Donors-to-Tides

Graph [1] [From part III | Beholden to Buffett]

“Anonymity is very important to most of the people we work with.” — Drummond Pike, Founder of Tides

Drummond Pike founded Tides Foundation in 1976 [2], the Tides Center in 1996 [3], the Advocacy Fund in 1994, Groundspring.org in 1999, Tides Inc. in 2003 [4], Tides Shared Spaces/Tides Two Rivers Foundation in 2004, and the Tides Network in 2006 [5].

By 2010, Tides’ combined cash flow regularly exceeded $200 million per year. Pike served as Chief Executive Officer of all Tides organizations until November 2010.[Source] Pike received an annual base compensation of $240,000 (2010), according to the 2010 Tides Foundation 990.

More recently Pike was named a Principal with Equilibrium Capital (a private equity impact investing firm based in Portland – the very kind promoted by 350.org’s divestment campaign. (“Distribution and Sales: We raise and scale institutional-quality capital.”) According to Tides, Pike is also volunteering time with Paladin Partners, LLC. Paladin Partners provides financial plans, consulting services, and investment services.

Pike currently serves on the Board of Directors of Working Assets, which he co-founded with Michael Kieschnick and Laura Scher. CREDO Mobile is a division of Working Assets. Prior to co-founding Credo Mobile (formerly known as Working Assets Wireless), Kieschnick worked at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Kieschnick also served as an economic advisor to Gov. Jerry Brown of California (1980–1982), and helped create several “socially responsible” investment (SRI) funds [Wikipedia]. Again, these are the same SRI funds promoted by the 350.org divestment campaign.

Klein RAN 

Photo: REVEL 2011 Awardee Naomi Klein (350.org board member) with Michael Kieschnick. Michael Kieschnick is a co-founder (with Drummond Pike of Tides) and president of Credo Mobile. Image: Rainforest Action Network via Flickr. Rainforest Action Network’s ultra white and ultra elite annual benefit REVEL event. [6]

As illustrated by the intermingling of many of these behind the scenes capital investors, The Tides Foundation could best be described as a priceless, magical, money funneling machine of epic proportions for the oligarchs. It receives money from donors and then distributes these funds to the recipients of their choice. In this way, donors can strategically fund specific campaigns or specific organizations without ever disclosing their identities. These transactions are called “Anonymous Donor Advised Funds” or simply “Donor Advised Funds.” (Many such transactions are documented in the information that follows. The NoVo Foundation makes grants to Tides (to both Tides Foundation and the Tides Center).

The Tides Foundation focuses on fundraising and grant-making, while the Tides Center operates as a fiscal sponsor (“to promote and support emerging social change and educational programs”) enticing novice NGOs to the shelter of Tides’ own charitable tax-exempt status, and other desirable/coveted benefits.

The far-right website, Activist Cash, is perceptive in their following observation:

“Tides does two things better than any other foundation or charity in the U.S. today: it routinely obscures the sources of its tax-exempt millions, and makes it difficult (if not impossible) to discern how the funds are actually being used…. In practice, ‘Tides’ behaves less like a philanthropy than a money-laundering enterprise… taking money from other foundations and spending it as the donor requires. Called donor-advised giving, this pass-through funding vehicle provides public-relations insulation for the money’s original donors. By using Tides to funnel its capital, a large public charity can indirectly fund a project with which it would prefer not to be directly identified in public…. In many cases, even the eventual recipient of the funding has no idea how Tides got it in the first place.”

This fits the Buffett to NoVo to Tides to 350.org, et al. transactions – to a T.

As the following information will demonstrate, money (in the form of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway stock) was funnelled from Warren Buffett to the Buffett family’s NoVo Foundation to Tides and finally, to selected NGOs who led the Stop the Keystone XL campaign (which played a key role in Warren Buffett achieving his 21st century oil-transporting rail empire), thus demonstrating the need for covert funding of highly financed “movements” brilliantly.

Of course, these are not real movements but merely highly financed campaigns presented as “grassroots” movements. The sources of the funding (the wealthy elite, corporations, unions, other foundations, etc.) are “giving” the funds for specific reasons, campaigns and purposes – as the Buffett-NoVo-Tides transaction so brilliantly demonstrates. Thus, philanthropy should not be considered unbridled generosity, but rather strategic, long-term investment and tax evasion under the cloak of good will. Further, without an insider and/or documents, it’s almost impossible to follow the money, which is exactly why foundations are so imperative to the oligarchs that finance them to the tune of billions of dollars.

Ignoring the Fact that the Oligarchs Finance the “Movements” | Buffett’s NoVo Foundation

Tar Sands Illustration SM

Above: Illustration courtesy of Stephanie McMillan. Further reading: Offsetting Resistance

In 2010, the Keystone XL pipeline was pushed to the forefront by the non-profit industrial complex, in tandem with both mainstream and so-called progressive media, to become the main focus of the anti-tar sands campaign and indeed, the climate movement as a whole. While it deliberately and strategically captured the full attention of the populace, billionaire Warren Buffett, financial advisor to Barrack Obama, quietly built his 21st century rail dynasty with absolutely no dissent or interference. All eyes were on one single pipeline that was, for the most part, already built.

NorthAmericaPipelines

Image: Pipelines in North American Pipelines (all commodities) Source: The Globe & Mail, Feb 19, 2011

cbr-loadings---annual-2008---2013 

Image: Moving the Crude, March 10, 2014: “Three years ago, there was not that much crude oil moving by rail. Most tank cars were searching for ethanol as demand for the mandated fuel additive dropped. The Bakken oil fields were just starting to show promise, the development rush was just starting, and the Keystone XL was encountering its first real obstacles. Funny what can happen in three years. While pipelines still are the dominant method for moving both crude and petroleum products, rail is growing at an exponential rate.”

It should be of no surprise to anyone that the NoVo Foundation holds shares in Berkshire Hathaway Stock. According to the NoVo Foundation website, in 2006, Warren Buffett “promised to give roughly $1 billion of Class B Berkshire Hathaway stock to each of the foundations his children run as part of a plan to give the bulk of his fortune to charity.” Buffett’s comment would serve to be most prophetic:

“‘They’ve done everything I’ve hoped for and more with the original gifts.’ …Peter Buffett said it’s nice to hear his father praise the charitable work he has been doing and that this latest gift should enable NoVo Foundation to accomplish more. ‘It means we get to go deeper essentially.'”

According to Forbes, Buffett further pledged $3 billion of Berkshire Hathaway stock to his children’s foundations in September of 2012. On July 14, 2014, Buffett “donated 1,160,981 shares of Class B Common Stock to each of the Sherwood Foundation, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and the NoVo Foundation pursuant to his previously announced irrevocable pledges to these foundations.” [Source] “By donating at the market value of the shares, Mr. Buffett gets credit for the appreciation in the shares, but doesn’t have to pay income tax on his gain.” (Buffett is not alone in his understanding of how to sidestep income tax. “Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has done the same thing. Mr. Zuckerberg donated $500 million of his Facebook stock to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. Zuckerberg made his donation in the form of 18 million shares, translating to a $500 million tax deduction.”) [Source]

Funding Buys Both Acquiescence and Silence

“North America’s major freight railroads are in the midst of a building boom unlike anything since the industry’s Gilded Age heyday in the 19th century.” – The Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2013

On July 6, 2013 rail tankers transporting Bakken crude oil derailed, annihilating the entire downtown district of Lac Mégantic, Quebec.

Up to this time, the leading NGOs that led the Keystone XL campaign only uttered the word “rail” publicly, when unable to manoeuvre the growing dialogue on the issue of expanding rail. This would be Canada’s worst rail disaster since 1864, killing 47 citizens, including children, 5 having been completely vapourized.

The Lac Mégantic tragedy was so horrific that it could not be ignored. If ever there was a time to campaign on the dangers of crude oil transported via rail, this was it. If ever there was a time to focus on the necessity to end tar sands extraction, at the source of production (which translates to a massive decline in energy consumption and economic growth), rather than a single pipeline, this was it.

Although 350.org would have you believe they are campaigning against tar sands, it speaks volumes that these groups made no mention whatsoever of the apocalyptic remnants of Lac Mégantic to their “followers” / supporters.

Aside from an honourable mention to 350Maine, the only reference to the most dreadful accident directly resulting from oil via rail (as of July 22, 2013), is a press release (simply titled “Over fifty groups call for tougher oil transportation safety rules”) quietly sent to media on July 22, 2013. [Source]

NoVo Grants to Tides

The NoVo webstate states: “Jennifer and Peter have been active philanthropists since 1997. NoVo was created in 2006 after Warren Buffett pledged to donate 350,000 shares of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. stock to the foundation.” Yet 990 forms demonstrate that the NoVo foundation actually filed a tax return in the year 2000 under the name The Spirit Foundation.

NoVo 990, 2012: Warren Buffett contributed $53,089,976.00 to NoVo | NoVo’s contribution to Tides: $795,000.00 (TC); $3,269,685.00 (TF) ($181,040.00 – Anonymous Donor Advised Funds) (TF) (Indigenous Peoples Fund $1,735,000.00) (TF); $350,000.00 (TC); $477,557.00 (TF) ($174,087.00 – Anonymous Donor Advised Funds) (TF) (Grants and contributions paid during the year or approved for future payment.)

NoVoStock2012

NoVo 990, 2011: Warren Buffett contributed $51,808,325.00 to NoVo. | NoVo’s contribution to Tides: $275,000.00 (TC); $75,000.00 (TC); $254,000.00 (TC); $350,000.00 (TC); $180,000.00 (Anonymous Donor Advised Fund) (TF); $500,000.00 (TF); $535,000.00 (Indigenous People’s Fund) (TF); $250,000.00 (TF); $395,000.00 (TF); $100,000.00 (TF); $250,000.00 (TF); $25,000.00 (TF) Approved for future payment: $275,000.00 (TC); $75,000.00 (TC); $700,000.00 (TC); $250,000.00 (TF) (Grants and contributions paid during the year or approved for future payment.)

NoVoStocks2011

NoVo 990, 2010: Warren Buffett contributed $56,167,099.00 to NoVo. NoVo’s contribution to Tides: $293,000.00 (TC); $49,284.00 (TC); $535,000.00 (Indigenous People’s Fund) (TF); $1,425,000.00 (Anonymous Donor Advised Fund) (TF); $25,000.00 (Anonymous Donor Advised Fund) (TF) (Grants and contributions paid during the year or approved for future payment.)

NoVoStocks2010

NoVo 990, 2009: Warren Buffett contributed $43,874,620.00 to NoVo. | NoVo’s contribution to Tides: $275,000.00 (TC); $25,000.00 (TC); $1,000,000.00 (TC); 606,000.00 (Anonymous Donor Advised Fund) (TF); $2,000,000.00 (Indigenous People’s Fund) (TF); $250,000.00 (Anonymous Donor Advised Fund) (TF); $40,000.00 (Indigenous People’s Fund)(TF); $350,000.00 (Anonymous Donor Advised Fund) (TF); $1,000,000.00 (Anonymous Donor Advised Fund) (TF); $275,000.00 (TC); $500,000.00 (Indigenous Peoples Fund) (TF); $450,000.00 (Anonymous Donor Advised Fund) (TF). (Grants and contributions paid during the year or approved for future payment.)

NoVoStocks2009

NoVo 990, 2008: Warren Buffett contributed $62,765,356.00 to NoVo. | NoVo’s contribution to Tides: $330,000.00 (TC); $250,000.00 (TC); $500,000.00 (TC); $550,000.00 (TC), $500,000.00 (TC), $500,000.00 (TC), $2,600,000.00 (Donor Advised Fund) (TF). (Grants and contributions paid during the year or approved for future payment.)

NoVoStocks2008

NoVo 990, 2007: Warren Buffett contributed $61,745,250.00 to NoVo. | NoVo’s contribution to Tides: $500,000.00 (TC); 4,000,000.00 (environmental fund) (TF); $1,000,000.00 (TC); $2,000,000.00 (environmental fund) (TF) (Grants and contributions paid during the year or approved for future payment.)

NoVoStocks2007

NoVo 990, 2006: Warren Buffett contributed $52,957,500.00 to NoVo. | NoVo’s contribution to TIDES: $2,000,000.00 (Environment Advised Fund)(TF) $6,000,000.00 (Environment Advised Fund) (TF). (Grants and contributions paid during the year or approved for future payment.)

NoVoStocks2006

NoVo 990, 2005: ***FORMERLY KNOWN AS THE SPIRIT FOUNDATION | Spirit’s/NoVo’s contribution to Tides: $3,000,000.00 (Environment Fund) (TF); $8,000,000.00 (Environment Fund) (TF) (Grants and contributions paid during the year or approved for future payment.)

NoVoStock2005

NoVo 990, 2004: THE SPIRIT FOUNDATION | Warren and Susan Buffett contributed $10,020.00 to Spirit. The Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation contributed $10,792.00 to Spirit. Spirit’s contribution to Tides: $25,000.00 (TC); $2,940,003.50 (TC); $105,000 (TC) (Grants and contributions paid during the year or approved for future payment.)

NoVoStock2004

 

$26 Million Shades of Grey 

 

NoVo-Grants-to-Tides

Graph [7] [From part III | Beholden to Buffett]

It is important to note that the many of the funds above, from NoVo to Tides, are designated, on paper, to specific campaigns. Yet at the same time one must be cognitive of the observation mentioned prior: “Tides does two things better than any other foundation or charity in the U.S. today: it routinely obscures the sources of its tax-exempt millions, and makes it difficult (if not impossible) to discern how the funds are actually being used….” With $26 million in funding, one can safely assume two things: that Tides and NoVo have a relationship that extends far beyond what is documented on paper, and that Tides will not be funding a campaign against Buffett’s crude-via-rail dynasty anytime soon.

 

Timeline:

 

  • June, 2006: Warren Buffett pledged to donate most of his wealth to the Gates Foundation as well as other philanthropic organizations, including NoVo.
  • 2007: Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway begins to acquire the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad stock.
  • 2007: 60% of Marmon Holdings (Union Tank Car Co.) was acquired by Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, with the remaining 40% to be acquired in the next five to seven years.
  • Aug 19, 2008: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates make a quiet visit to the Alberta tar sands.
  • August 2009: US State Department approves Enbridge’s Alberta Clipper Pipeline, a key tar sands pipeline. 350.org et al are silent.
  • Nov 3, 2009: Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway proposes to purchase BNSF Railway as a wholly owned subsidiary for $34 billion in the largest deal in Berkshire history. As of June 2009, Berkshire Hathaway was the eighteenth largest corporation on Earth.
  • Feb 4, 2010: 86 US organizations call on President Obama to reject the pipeline.
  • 2010-2014: Warren Buffet succeeds in building a 21st century rail empire with no dissent. Crude via rail soars.

350.org-Funding

Graph [8] [From part III | Beholden to Buffett] Note: Dirty Oil Sands is now Tar Sands Solutions Network.

As crude via rail soars, NoVo’s own net worth soars with it. Yet, there has been no reaction to the fact Buffett’s NoVo has been the number one contributor to Tides. Rather, the symbolic “Stop the Keystone XL” campaign still drags on….

With the fight over the Keystone Pipeline still raging in Washington, a Kansas-based rail operator and an oil logistics firm are planning a rail terminal in Port Arthur that could double the number of barrels of oil sands crude flowing to the Gulf Coast from Canada…. Kansas City Southern stock jumped up as high as $110.76 a share following the announcement.” — Keystone? Who needs it? Railroad plans fuel terminal for Port Arthur, Boz Journals, July 10, 2014 [Emphasis added]

All while the majority of the public has no clue that not only has much of the pipeline already been built, much of it is in operation. Again, sadly, it appears that the right of centre is much more astute than the left. On September 5, 2013, an article appearing on The American Enterprise Institute reproduces the following from U.S.A Today:

“The biggest mystery about the Keystone XL pipeline is why its final stage hasn’t already been approved by the Obama administration. There are six things most people don’t know that make the mystery deeper … following the contentious Keystone pipeline debate, you can be forgiven if you think that the fight is over whether to build it. That’s not quite right. The Keystone system has already been transporting oil sands from Canada to U.S. refineries in the Midwest for three years – with no major leaks. The Keystone XL project that has received so much attention is the last phase of a larger project. [Emphasis in original]

Phase 1 has been operating since 2010, carrying oil from Alberta across three Canadian provinces and six states to refineries in Illinois (see solid brown line in map).

Phase 2 expanded the system from Steele City, Neb., to Cushing, Okla., a major U.S. oil refining and storing hub (see solid green line in map). It went operational two years ago, again with no major problems.

Phase 3, under construction, extends the pipeline from Oklahoma to the Gulf Coast refineries in Texas (see orange dashed line in map). President Obama even gave a speech in Cushing in March 2012 — during his re-election bid — praising the pipeline extension as good for the economy.

Phase 4, the Keystone XL, would build another extension to the pipeline system from Alberta, crossing only three states (Montana, South Dakota then Nebraska, see blue dashed line in map).”

Tides-Tar-Sands-Campaign-Funding

Graph [9] [From part III | Beholden to Buffett]

In keeping with reality, perhaps it is necessary to outline the fact that Tides, recipient of millions of dollars (approx. $26 million since 2004) via the Buffett family’s NoVo Foundation, in turn, also channels hundreds of thousands of dollars into Ceres (350.org divestment campaign partner), with grants spiking up to and during the peak years of the Keystone XL campaign (years 2009, 1010 and 2011). (As disclosed previously, in 2010, Tides granted $150,000 to Ceres, with $100,000.00 of these funds specifically earmarked for a “tar sands campaign.” [Tides 990, 2010] As well, in 2008 Ceres received $50,000 from Wallace Global, also designated for a tar sands campaign.) [TIDES FUNDS TO CERES (LIST OF GRANTEES): 2011, $120,000.00 | 2010, $150,000.00 | 2009, $100,000.00 | 2006, $17,500.00) | 2004, $25,000.00]

One could argue that since the NoVo Foundation was established with Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway stocks (it continues to receive bulk shares), it therefore dismisses any just questioning of the funneling of revenue from Warren Buffett, into his family’s NoVo Foundation and then into the Tides Foundation. One may wish to deem this as completely irrelevant, despite the fact that the Tides Foundation was/is the key distributor of anti-pipeline campaign financing for the non-profit industrial complex. Yet the fact that the NoVo Foundation’s wealth (and power) increases when and as long as the Berkshire Hathaway stock increases (with expanding rail transportation of oil) – surely demonstrates a devious strategy on the part of both benefactor and recipient. At minimum, it demonstrates an almost criminal conflict of interest.

“Philanthropy, we are told, is to replace the welfare state: instead of attempting to redistribute wealth via taxation and democratic planning, austerity politicians are in the process of dispatching with what they view as an irritating relic of working class history. In its place we are informed that we should rely upon the charity of the greediest and most exploitative subset of society, our country’s leading capitalists. A group of individuals whose psychological temperament is better described as psychopathic rather than altruistic.” — Michael Barker — paraphrased from Joel Bakan’s The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power

The media’s glorification of those who profit the most from the rape and pillage of our planet acts as a shield for brilliant albeit pathologically rich human beings. The media’s glorification also applies to those selected and assigned to leadership positions within the non-profit industrial complex. The media assures us that everyone we know adores and trusts these manufactured celebrities. In Rockefeller We Trust – meekly, and cowardly, we collectively kowtow to the implanted meme insulated within the masses.

We have to consider that in 2002, prior to Buffett’s foray into concern over the environment and previous to his focus on rebuilding North America’s rail empire, there were no contributions from the NoVo Foundation (operating under the name Spirit Foundation) to Tides, whatsoever. (Warren Buffett contributed $300,000.00 to the Spirit Foundation that same year.)

It is of interest to note that Suzanne Nossel, former Executive Director of Amnesty International USA and trusted instrument of American hegemony, serves on Tides Board of Directors. On Oct 1, 2012, in the article, Amnesty Coup, author Jay Taber writes: “As an experienced advocate for neoliberal coercion to achieve American hegemony, she has taken an aggressive pro-war stance over the last decade, including the US invasion of Iraq and the NATO bombing of Libya.”

All while:

“Gary D. Schwartz joins NoVo after fifteen years of service at Tides. He was the founder of the Tides’ New York office and served in many different capacities during his tenure there including Interim CEO before departing in 2014.” [Source]

 

The interlocking directorate contagion continues to thrive in the non-profit industrial complex.

 

[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation, Political Context, Counterpunch, Canadians for Action on Climate Change and Countercurrents. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia.]

 

Endnotes:

[1]  Activists should take note of the information/funding sources, disclosed in far-right Canadian Vivian Krause’s investigative reports/research. (“Vivian Krause is a Vancouver researcher and writer. Her work raises fair questions about the science and the funding of environmental campaigns. During the 1990s, Vivian worked on community health and development in Guatemala and Indonesia. She holds a Bachelor of Science from McGill University and a Masters Degree from l’Université de Montréal. Vivian is also a contributor to The Financial Post.” Source: Huffington Post.) From the PowerPoint presentation “Rethinking Environmental Activism Against Canadian Energy.”

[2] “Tides Foundation’s primary exempt purpose is grantmaking. We empower individuals and institutions to move money efficiently and effectively towards positive social change”. – Tides

[3] The said purpose of the Tides Center is “to promote and support emerging social change and educational programs.” – Tides | As the Capital Research Center explains:”Under the Tides Center umbrella, the new group can then accept tax deductible contributions without needing to apply immediately to the IRS for tax-exempt 501(c)(3) public charity tax status…. Besides giving a new project its seal of approval, the Tides Center performs a notable service in showing new groups how to run an office, apply for grants, conduct effective public relations, and handle the many personnel, payroll, and budget problems that might baffle a novice group.” The Center also functions as a legal firewall insulating the Tides Foundation from potential lawsuits.

[4] The said purpose of Tides Inc. is “to provide economically, programatically and environmentally sustainable workplace facilities and other value-added social and real estate services to the Tides Family of Organizations and other nonprofit organizations that further similar charitable purposes. The said purpose of Tides Two Rivers Foundation is that it “acts as a supporting organization to the Tides Foundation, a grant making foundation, and the Tides Center, a comprehensive fiscal sponsor of non-profit activities.” – Tides | “Tides Canada is a Canadian charitable organization established in 2000 by a founding board that included Drummond Pike, also founder of Tides US. While Tides Canada’s name was inspired by Tides US, it is an independent entity with separate management and distinct organizational structure. With headquarters in Vancouver and offices in Toronto and Yellowknife, Tides Canada is made up of two separate legal entities. Tides Canada Foundation is a national public foundation that focuses on social justice and the environment and Tides Canada Initiatives Society is a shared administrative platform for 40 in-house social change projects with field staff across the country.” [Wikipedia]

[5] “The specific purposes of Tides Network includes charitable and educational activities exclusively to support Tides Foundation, The Tides Center, and Tides, Inc. and Tides Two Rivers Fund.” – Tides

[6] The REVEL award is a creation of the Rainforest Action Network’s ultra white and ultra elite, annual benefit REVEL event (“It was a gorgeous affair.”) To illustrate the long relationship between various leaders of the faux environmental movement, Credo’s Kieschnick (“eco” capitalist extraordinaire) and Bill McKibben (as noted earlier, Klein’s primary establishment counterpart at 350.org/1Sky), go back to at least 2007 during the days of Step It Up, McKibben’s first nationwide campaign. [After one year in operation, Rockefeller “awarded $100,000 to McKibben and Step It Up on March 13, 2008 to support its new project, an initiative called Project 350”. Source] This should come as no surprise considering Credo Mobile is a financial supporter of Democratic Party and key partner of 350.org (This relationship is strikingly similar to Avaaz, which was co-founded by Democrat and former congressman Tom Perriello, and is also a key partner, financier and ally of 350.org/1sky).

[7] [8] [9] See [1] above.

False Hope

Fourth World Eye Blog

September 7, 2014

by Jay Taber

Communications-in-Conflict-

 

The globalization of poverty through privatization initiatives and austerity measures — enforced by the IMF and World Bank on behalf of Wall Street — would never have been possible were it not for the psychological warfare waged against public consciousness over the last three decades. As concepts, humanitarian warfare, indigenous capitalism, and free market environmentalism would have been laughed out on their ear forty years ago.

Through coordinated consolidation of news ownership, advertising campaigns and educational privatization, Wall Street was able to turn black into white, night into day. Using derivatives laundered by foundations, aristocratic families like Ford and Rockefeller, and financial barons like Gates and Soros helped to defeat the New Deal liberalism of FDR, and supplant it with the neoliberalism of Clinton. Under neoliberalism, Orwellian prophecies have come to pass: war is peace; assimilation is freedom; earth is a commodity.

In the IC Magazine publication Communications in Conflict, is noted a new form of psychological warfare termed “false hope”. False hope, as a tool for subverting social movements, is unparalleled in its effectiveness. What once was crudely accomplished through political repression, censorship, educational indoctrination and misleading propaganda, is now supplemented, if not surpassed, through vertical integration of the non-profit industrial complex. Where Wall Street once had to rely on threats and bribery to intimidate or corrupt social movements, it now has a vast army of neoliberal foundations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and social media at its disposal.

By marshaling neoliberal funders, co-opted activists, and writers masquerading as agents for change, Wall Street can literally politicize, organize and mobilize citizens concerned about peace, indigenous peoples or the environment to do its bidding. As evidence of this, we only have to look at the fake revolutions and so-called humanitarian warfare endorsed by Amnesty International, the attack on indigenous governing authorities by Ford-funded activists sabotaging the North American Indigenous Peoples Caucus gathering, or at the fossil fuel divestment campaign promoted by Rockefeller darling 350.org.

While NGO celebrities like Amnesty International’s Suzanne Nossel, First Peoples Worldwide’s Rebecca Adamson, and 350.org’s Naomi Klein generate press releases supporting Obama’s neoliberal State Department, Pentagon and Wall Street initiatives — thereby subverting social solidarity and undermining authentic activism — their lasting harm is in creating a seamless spectacle that diverts young peoples’ energy, devotion and commitment away from democratic community-building toward tyrannic social disintegration. As we advance toward the World Indigenous Peoples Conference at UN headquarters September 22-23 2014, the charades of Clinton, Soros, Rockefeller, Ford and Gates Foundation-sponsored public relations puppets continue to disrupt civil society, and to distract public attention from where it should be focused.

Until we are able to have a discussion about such things as the dysfunctional relationship between indigenous nations and modern states, the neoliberal UN Millenium Development Goals, and implementing Indigenous peoples human rights — in fora uncontrolled by capitalist institutions — no amount of bromides issued by the non-profit industrial complex is going to change a thing. Until we start defending democracy against the philanthropists in our midst, social engineering by Wall Street will continue to promote war, undermine indigenous liberation, and wreak havoc on the environment.

Welcome to the rave new world.

 

Truth About 350

Public Good Project

by Jay Taber

bread-and-circuses2

 

With Chris Hedges op-ed at Truthdig calling the People’s Climate March a “climate-themed street fair,” corporate-funded pied pipers like Avaaz and 350 — both major promoters of the march — will be going on the offensive against reporters who expose Big Green fraud. Indeed, the Labor Day puff piece on 350 at The Real News Network was an opportunity for readers to start discussing the reality of foundation-sponsored spectacle.

While Hedges did not name Avaaz, 350, McKibben, Klein, Soros or Rockefeller brothers in his op-ed, he did say the march is organized by a bunch of “corporate fronts,” and that isn’t going to help Avaaz or 350 any.

Ironically, Hedges is a poster boy at TRNN, and wrote his rebuke of the march the day after the puff piece was hammered in the comment section. Perhaps he can see that the tide is turning against the Avaaz/350 charade, and doesn’t want to seem like a dupe by not calling it what it is. Whatever his reason for waiting so long to speak out, it is nevertheless timely to shine a light on charlatans like Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein.

 

[As an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal, Jay has assisted indigenous peoples seeking justice at the European Court of Human Rights and the United Nations. Since 1994, he has served as creative director at Public Good Project. ]