Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Whose Heritage?

"Who funds the Heritage Foundation?" asks Fumier, in response to an earlier post here. A good question, so I set out to find out. Some of the answers are here and here.

According to Wikipedia, the influential Foundation was set up with funding from Joseph Coors of the Coors brewing family. Today it states that its funding comes from "the financial contributions of the gemeral public: individuals, foundations and corporations," and that it accepts no government funds. While corporations apparently account for less than 10% of its total funding of around US$30 million a year, they appear to have a strong influence on its pro-big business policies. Donors include many of the usual suspects: Chase Manhattan Bank, Dow Chemical Company, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, American International Group (AIG), Novartis, ChevronTexaco and Exxon Mobil. Some money comes from overseas, including Korean sources and the Margaret Thatcher Foundation in Britain.

Tobacco money is naturally represented among this crowd, with Altria Group among the donors (known as Philip Morris until their reputation for killing their customers forced them to change their name); in exchange for their support, they are rewarded with such egregious pieces of propaganda as this. Notice two ingenious arguments here: tobacco tax should not be increased because "with the number of smokers already declining, a tobacco tax would further reduce the number of smokers, thereby eroding the funding source" (isn't reducing the number of smokers a key objective of such increases?); and "young adults are ... disproportionately impacted by the tobacco tax"(doesn't the tobacco industry always say that it wishes to discourage young people from smoking?)

According to Wikipedia, the Heritage Foundation is associated with the Hong Kong consulting firm Belle Haven Consultants, which lobbies in Washington on behalf of Malaysian interests.

Would you buy a used policy from these guys?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I was wondering if those who benefit most from Hong Kong's "freedom", namely the oligopolists, had somehow siphoned some of their superprofits into the "think" tank.