Search for your Congressional Member’s Report Card

WHAT? Democracy.
WHO? Decides.

Perspective

HISTORICAL CONTEXT

pile of books, feather and ink

Businesses use huge financial resources to counter public polices…

From 1969-1972 in the space of only 4 years by our collective citizen engagement, we made Congress enact public polices for the good of all of us from major environmental laws like “The Clean Air Act ,The Clean Water Act, The Endangered Species Act”, and a series of additional consumer-protection agencies, including the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

In response to these government regulations brought on by public interest groups and environmentalists, businesses began to to cooperate together and added huge financial resources and professional advise to counter these advances. Currently in Washington, 5 Key operatives namely the Front Groups, Think Tanks, Public Relations Firms, Lobbyists and Media representing business interests before regulatory agencies and federal courts has mushroomed to unprecedented numbers .

Given this history the responsibility falls on us the American Citizens to stay engaged and ensure democratic processes are followed by our elected congressional members upholding the will of us the people by implementing sensible public polices.

ENGAGE TO CHANGE " OUR STATUS "

Illustration of puzzle pieces forming a light bulb, which connects people

Demand that unbiased, academic experts are consulted as resources…

  1. Demand that unbiased, academic experts are consulted as resources for evidence based data for public policy issues of Economy, Environment, HealthCare,Women’s and LGBTQ Rights, eliminating the industry funded pundits representing Think tanks , PR Firms and Lobbyists with their questionable credentials.
  2. Demand that media stop using employees of think tanks as being independent experts and get their evidence based facts from experts in universities doing original research.
  3. Demand Investigative journalism from media as apposed to Source journalism where the public policy narrative is created by PR firms. This will make a paradigm shift for a healthy public policy debate based on evidence and facts.
  4. Demand change in media moderators during political debates with independent academic experts in order to have meaningful public policy discussions that are relevant to us the people and not based on the questions created by the 5 operatives to benefit themselves.
  5. Demand changes in legislation to bar any government employees from becoming lobbyists at least 10 years after leaving office.

BENCHMARKING & BEST PRACTICES

bar chart of consolidation

The top four U.S. manufacturing firms control 43 percent of US sales…

Two independent studies by researches at NYU as well as MIT  reveal the following facts:
PDF Study: MIT
PDF Study: NYU

In recent years US industries are becoming increasingly consolidated, with fewer businesses competing for customers and higher corporate profits as a result. The top four manufacturing firms control 43 percent; the top four retail trade firms control 30 percent of US sales.  

 Europe’s ( EU) democracies by contrast are encouraging competition and fighting monopoly power in a way that the United States no longer does. With stiffer regulation and more aggressive antitrust enforcement, EU officials actively intervene to keep individual companies and cartels from accumulating too much control. There’s no sign of this growing consolidation in European industries ranging from health care to manufacturing.

PROFIT MARGINS - U.S. VS EU

U.S. companies have used their growing market power for profit to raise prices…

While US companies have used their growing market power for profit to raise prices, limit wage growth, and dramatically increase overall net earnings in recent years, profit rates in the EU have remained relatively unchanged for the last 25 years.

The fact is that in smoothly functioning markets profits are supposed to be minimal because any excess should attract competitors and force price reductions. 

(Click Image to Expand Size)

LOBBYING EXPENDITURES - U.S. VS EU

Total amount of money spent on lobbying in Europe is half that of the U.S…

The total amount of money spent on lobbying in Europe is half that of the United States, and while nearly 90 percent of all lobbying money in the United States comes from business, in the EU it’s more like 70 percent.

This is what you’d expect in a democratic system with more independent regulators.                       

Trojan Horses

5 KEY OPERATIVES MANIPULATE OUR PUBLIC POLICES

illustration of 5 people huggin in circle, labeled media, PR Firm, Think Tank, Lobbyist, and front group

Front Groups, Think Tanks, Public Relations Firms, Lobbyists and Media…

In the hallmark book by Sharon Beder, “Global Spin”, the following facts are truly revealing about the 5 key operatives namely the Front Groups, Think Tanks, Public Relations Firms, Lobbyists and Media representing business interests using strategies and operations in orchestrating our public polices for their own interests.

0
Front Groups
0
Think Tanks
0
PR Firms
0
Lobbyists
0
Corporations control
90% of all media

ROLE OF FRONT GROUPS

Front group logos holding hands

Top 5 Front Groups and their Funding Sources…

A Front Group is an organization that purports to represent one agenda while in reality it serves some other party or interest whose sponsorship is hidden or rarely mentioned.

The names of corporate front groups are carefully chosen to mask the real interests behind them but they usually can be identified by their funding sources, membership and who controls them.

The use of “front groups” enables corporations to take part in public debates and government hearings behind a cover of community concern. These front groups lobby governments to legislate in the corporate interest and campaign to change public opinion so that the markets for their corporate goods are not threatened.

TOP 5 Corporate Front Groups & their Funding Sources:

1. The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) is funded by food processing and beverage corporations like Burger King, Coca-Cola, as well as chemical, oil and pharmaceutical companies such as Monsanto-Bayer, Exon and others. The ACSH is one of many corporate front groups which allows industry-funded experts to pose as independent scientists to promote corporate causes.

2. Wise Use Movement is supported by most anti-environmentalist groups, by companies in the resource extraction industry, timber, chemical and land development companies. They portray environmentalists as the enemy of the people.

3. America’s Wetland Foundation (AWF) funded by the American Petroleum Institute, BP and a host of other oil industry companies, solicit taxpayer assistance for BP’s cleanup bill” for coastal damage resulting from the Deepwater Horizon spill.

4. The Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE) is a fossil fuel advocacy organization. The group opposes environmental activism and the pursuit of “green,” or sustainable energy development, saying the pursuit of solar and wind power “will end the America we know and love.”

5. The Non-Smoker Protection Committee is a front group partly-funded by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (RJR) that backed an initiative called the “Arizona Non-Smoker Protection Act”, that would have allowed smoking in all bars and some restaurants statewide, overturn smoking bans and restrict and prohibit cities from adopting strict smoking bans in the future.

ROLE OF THINK TANKS

Think tanks logos holding hands

Top 5 Think Tanks and their Funding Sources…

A Think Tank is an organization that engages in advocacy in areas such as social policy, political strategy, economics, military, technology issues and in the creative and cultural field.

They are generally private, tax-exempt, research institutes. Their tax-free status depends on their ability to maintain a superficial appearance of political independence, so they present themselves as providing impartial, disinterested expertise. However, they are generally partisan, politically or ideologically motivated and practice the art of “directed conclusions”. 

These think tanks aim to influence government and set the agenda in a variety of policy arenas.Think tanks often employ former government officials and politicians, as this gives them influence in government and credibility in the media.

TOP 5 Corporate Think Tanks and their Funding Sources:

1. The Heritage Foundation, is an extremely influential think tank which promotes deregulation of industry and unrestrained free market and privatization, including sell off of public lands. It is funded by the Koch brothers and clients in the tobacco industry taking positions favorable to their industry, such as opposition to raising tobacco taxes and regulations on vaping.

2. Cato Institute, apposes environmental regulation and promotes free-market environmentalism and has clients like, The American Petroleum Institute, Exxon, Monsanto, Philip Morris, Coca-Cola.

3. The Brookings Institute, a larger and more respectable left or center think-tank, less dependent on corporate funding it has a large endowment . Nevertheless it has been moving to a more conservative stance for some years with an antigovernment free-market economics mindset.

4. American Enterprise Institute, is another influential think tank that advocates for lower taxes, fewer protections for consumers and the environment, and cuts to the social safety net, clients include the tobacco industry.

5. Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, main concerns are such things as ‘welfare reform’ (dismantling social programs), ‘faith-based initiatives’ (blurring the distinction between church and state), and ‘education reform’ (destroying public education).

ROLE OF PR FIRMS

PR logos holding hands

Top 5 PR Firms and their Funding Sources

A Public Relations Firm (PR) is a professional services organization, generally hired to conceive, produce and manage messages to the public through the media on behalf of a corporate client, with the intention of changing the public’s actions by influencing their opinions. Messages are often in the form of news distributed in a non-personal form which may include newspaper, magazine, radio, television, Internet or other form of media.

Much of the the news people read or watch on television is manufactured by PR firms through press releases rather than discovered by journalists. According to various studies, press releases are the basis for forty to fifty per cent of the news content.

Today public relations is a multi-billion dollar industry. The top fifty us-based public relations companies charged over $1.7 Billion in fees. The industry employs over 200,000 people in the US and there are more public relations personnel than news reporters.

TOP 5 Corporate PR Firms & their Funding Sources:

1. Edelman, is the largest independently owned PR company, with 46 offices and 50 affiliates around the world. PR firms like Edelman “have played a critical role over the years in framing the debate on climate change and its solutions – as well as the extensive disinformation campaigns launched to block those initiatives.

2.Weber Shandwick Worldwide (WSW) the world’s largest public relations company. It is a privately held firm.WSW has been heavily criticized for its work for the Japanese Whaling Association and its work for the New Zealand government-owned logging company Timberlands. WSW owns Planet 2050, a PR firm marketed as “socially responsible”, which claims to help businesses “navigate the environmental and social challenges needed to operate in a planet under pressure.”

3. Fleishman-Hillard is a public relations company with a global network of offices as well as offices in 22 cities in the United States. It is owned by Omnicom. In the US it has “managed crises for the oil, railroad, airline, meat, poultry, produce and high-tech communications industries. Currently is on retainer for the Partnership for Food Safety Education.

4. Ketchum is a large public relations agency employing over 1100 people across 21 offices and with 35 affiliates around the world. Ketchum has worked for the following federal agencies, Education Department, Internal Revenue Service and Department of Health and Human Services, to “change the face of Medicare.” 

5. Burson-Marsteller (B-M) is a PR company having “made its name in crisis communications during the Tylenol tampering case.”In the past few years it has acted for big tobacco companies and the European biotechnology industry to challenge the green lobby and counter Greenpeace arguments on GM food.

Top 5 PR Firms – Financial Revenues:

$ 0 M
Edelman
$ 0 M
Weber Shandwick
$ 0 M
Fleishman-Hillard
$ 0 M
Ketchum
$ 0 M
Burson-Marsteller

ROLE OF LOBBYING FIRMS

Lobbying logos holding hands

Top 5 Lobbying Firms and their Funding Sources…

Lobbying Firms are specialist companies that primarily represent clients to politicians and government regulators. While there are no clear boundaries between what is lobbying and what is PR, lobbying firms often play specific roles within a broader campaign plan.

Lobbyists raise gobs of money for elected officials, they write laws themselves and lobbyists effectively bribe members of Congress with lucrative job offers to become lobbyists luring them with massive salary raises.

The phenomenon of members of Congress heading off to work for lobbying firms and their clients is know as “the revolving door.” In the 1970s, less than 5% of retiring legislators went on to become lobbyists. Now, half of retiring senators and a third of retiring house members become lobbyists.

TOP 5 Corporate Lobbying Firms & their Funding Sources:

1.Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck (BHFS) is a Denver-based corporate law and lobbying firm with offices in Albuquerque, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orange County, Phoenix, Reno, Sacramento, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Sante Fe and Washington D.C. There are 250 attorneys and policy consultants on staff, and its main areas of practice are corporate and business, government relations and public policy, litigation, natural resources, and real estate.

2. Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, LLP is an Washington DC-based law and lobbying firm.The firm said “focus is on developing solutions for clients facing challenges in the legislative, regulatory, constituency, corporate and public relations arenas at the state, federal and international levels.”

3. BGR Holdings LLC,  is a Washington D.C.-based public relations and lobbying. On its website it states “the firm represents a diverse, blue-chip clientele which includes Fortune 500 companies, international governments, trade associations, non-profits, academic institutions, hospitals, coalitions, and state and local governments.

4. Cornerstone Government Affairs is a full service, bipartisan consulting firm  specializing in federal and state government relations, public and strategic communications and advisory services.

5. Holland & Knight has  approximately 1,600 lawyers and other professionals in 30 offices.  The firm is dedicate to target key growth markets and industries like the infrastructure plan approved by congress.

 

Top 5 Lobbying Firms –   Financial Spend in Congress:

$ 0 M
Brownstein Hyatt et al
$ 0 M
Akin, Grump et al
$ 0 M
BGR group
$ 0 M
Cornerstone Govt. Affairs
$ 0 M
Holland & Knight

Trojan Horse Media

ROLE OF MEDIA

6 Corporations control 90% of the media in U.S… 

The Media, with its profile of truth seekers , serves the role that corporate front groups or think tanks fulfill for corporations. They push the corporate view while appearing to be independent of the corporation that will gain from it. Clearly journalists and their editors are only one of the filters through which news stores must pass. The news is not what reporters report but what editors and owners decide to print or broadcast. Editors are free to cut, edit or drop stories without consulting the journalist who wrote them.

The daily tonnage of output of propaganda and publicity has become an important force in our US life. Seventy percent (70%) of what is on cable is owned by the “Big 6”; half of the contents of the best newspapers is derived from publicity releases; nearly all the contents of the lesser papers are directly or indirectly the work of PR firms.

CEO SALARIES & REVENUES OF TOP 6 MEDIA GIANTS

 

It would take about 410 years for a typical employee at Disney, AT&T, Comcast, or ViacomCBS…

Media chieftains don’t suffer from low self-esteem and believe they’re entitled to make far more than most CEOs at similarly sized companies — and much more for 12 months of work than an average employee could make in several lifetimes.

It would take about 410 years for a typical employee at AT&T, Comcast, Disney or ViacomCBS to match the $37.6 million median size of the packages paid to each CEO last year, according to their most recent proxies.

REVENUES OF TOP 6 MEDIA GIANTS

Disney
$220 Billion $
Comcast
$209 Billion $
AT&T
$203 Billion $
Sony
$95 Billion $
ViacomCBS
$17.5 Billion $
News Corporation
$6.6 Billion $

Total: $751 Billion

PUBLIC BROADCASTING - PBS & NPR

Even trusted public organizations like PBS & NPR look to Think Tanks…

The reliance of journalists on sources such as PR personnel and government officials is referred to as source journalism, as apposed to independent investigative journalism.

Even trusted public organizations like Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) has so much oil company money sponsoring its programs that it was nicknamed the Petroleum Broadcasting Service.

FAIR’s study on PBS programming found they used mainly corporate conservative sources and rarely used public interest groups such as environmentalists in their reporting.
www.fair.org PDF Study: PBS

The same trend was reported by FAIR on National Public Radio’s (NPR) Morning Edition segment which often looks to a trusted roster of think-tank sources when seeking “expert” opinions.

In the study FAIR found that sources from left-of-center think tanks were underrepresented, while right leaning think tank sources were appearing almost twice as often. “The contrast between Morning Edition’s use of clearly conservative and clearly progressive think tanks was stark: Analysts from the former appeared more than three times as often as interviewees from the latter.”
www.fair.org PDF Study: NPR

PUBLIC BROADCASTING PBS FUNDING SOURCES

NewsHour derives its revenue from a variety of sources including “nonpublic” streams such as corporations…

Hundreds of local and regional radio and television stations comprise the U.S. public media system.

On the television side, NewsHour derives its revenue from a variety of sources, including PBS, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and a mix of “nonpublic” streams such as corporations, individual giving and foundations. In 2020, contributions from individuals comprised 24% of total nonpublic funding.

NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO (NPR) FUNDING SOURCES

A large portion of revenue comes from member stations & underwriting corporate sponsors…

“NPR is an independent, non-profit media organization. We are also a membership organization of separately licensed and operated public radio stations across the United States.

A large portion of NPR’s revenue comes from dues and fees paid by our Member stations and underwriting from corporate sponsors. Other sources of revenue include institutional grants, individual contributions and fees paid by users of the Public Radio Satellite System (PRSS; i.e., Distribution and satellite interconnection services).”

Wealth Inequality

INCOME & WEALTH INEQUALITY IN U.S

In the United States, the income gap between the rich and everyone else has been growing markedly, for more than 30 years..

Income includes the revenue streams from wages, salaries, interest on a savings account, dividends from shares of stock, rent, and profits from selling something for more than you paid for it. Unlike wealth statistics, income figures do not include the value of homes, stock, or other possessions. Income inequality refers to the extent to which income is distributed in an uneven manner among a population.

We equate wealth with “net worth,” the sum total of your assets minus liabilities. Assets can include everything from an owned personal residence and cash in savings accounts to investments in stocks and bonds, real estate, and retirement accounts. Liabilities cover what a household owes: a car loan, credit card balance, student loan, mortgage, or any other bill yet to be paid. In the United States, wealth inequality runs even more pronounced than income inequality.

 

INCOME INEQUALITY IN U.S

man running away with bags of cash

Top 0.1 percent are taking in over 196 times the income of the bottom 90 percent…

Income Inequality has become so pronounced that America’s top 10 percent now average more than nine times as much income as the bottom 90 percent. Americans in the top 1 percent tower stunningly higher. They average over 39 times more income than the bottom 90 percent.

But that gap pales in comparison to the divide between the nation’s top 0.1 percent and everyone else. Americans at this lofty level are taking in over 196 times the income of the bottom 90 percent.www.inequality.org

(Click Image to Expand Size)

WEALTH INEQUALITY IN U.S

Man laying on pile of cash to protect it

Amazon Jeff Bezos, Microsoft Bill Gates, and investor Warren Buffett held combined fortunes…

 The most visible indicator of wealth inequality in America today may be the Forbes magazine list of the nation’s 400 richest.

In 2018, the three men at the top of that list — Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and investor Warren Buffett — held combined fortunes worth more than the total wealth of the poorest half of Americans.www.inequality.org

(Click Image to Expand Size)

GENDER WEALTH INEQUALITY IN U.S

A man standing on a larger pile of cash than the woman next to him

Women represent only 5% of CEO’s at Fortune 500 firms…

Dominant occupations such as childcare and service industries continue to occupy the lower rungs of the U.S. wage ladder. Women make up 63 percent of workers earning the federal minimum wage, a wage rate stuck at $7.25 since 2009.

By contrast, women represent only 5 percent of CEO’s at Fortune 500 firms. CEOs took home $13.1 million on average in 2016.www.inequality.org

(Click Image to Expand Size)

RACIAL WEALTH INEQUALITY IN U.S

Illustration of large hand picking up a white man in a line of people with diverse backgrounds

The median White family has 41 times more wealth than the median Black family…

Median Black family, with just over $3,500, owns just 2 percent of the wealth of the nearly $147,000 the median White family owns. The median Latino family, with just over $6,500, owns just 4 percent of the wealth of the median White family.

Put differently, the median White family has 41 times more wealth than the median Black family and 22 times more wealth than the median Latino family. www.inequality.org

(Click Image to Expand Size)