NOTE: I will be teaching at the Omega Institute this summer.
I’ve been interviewed by lots of journalists in the past month in response to the Panama Papers disclosures. A question I often get asked: “How do modern day economic hit men (EHMs) work?”
One answer comes directly from recent reports in media outlets as diverse as the Washington Post, Forbes, Esquire, MSNBC, Media Matters, NPR, and PRWatch. These reports disclose the “secret” activities of EHMs who serve today’s wealthy and powerful. (See more links below).
The recent revelations tell the disturbing story of methods that are used by current EHMs to help organizations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and individuals like the Koch brothers fight minimum wage increases, the right for all Americans to vote, paid sick and maternity leaves, and other so call “progressive” polices. They tell the story of techniques employed today here in the United States that in my EHM time were used to exploit developing countries – payoffs, legal bribery, extortion, sometimes the threat of violence, and all manner of influence peddling. They tell the story of the extremely rich and powerful attempting to block policies that most of the CEOs who manage their corporations favor.
The new revelations center around a polling firm that instructed state Chamber of Commerce lobbyists on how to defeat measures popular among their own members. Video footage from a closed-door Chamber of Commerce webinar showed the polling firm LuntzGlobal (headed by GOP pollster Frank Luntz) presenting an internal survey of 1000 C-suite executives who are either current or future Chamber members. The pole found that 80% support raising the minimum wage, 73% support paid sick days, 72% support increased maternity leave time, and 82% support increased paternity leave time. Despite the survey’s findings, LuntzGlobal coached lobbyists from state and local chambers on how to combat these very policies.
After watching this video Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project commented, “with their internal polls showing that business owners and executives support raising the minimum wage by an overwhelming 80 to 8 percent, it’s unconscionable that the US Chamber and state chambers continue to fight the wage increases that America’s workers and our economy need.”
I devote a chapter in The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man to answering the question “who are today’s economic hit men?” The lobbyists exposed in this recent slew of articles are just the tip of the iceberg, one part of the answer to that question. Yet, the good news is that this part is now exposed by the mainstream – as well as alternative – media. Every day there are more revelations.
It is the duty – and the pleasure – of every one of us to spread this news and to continue to tip the iceberg. In this day of social media, it is easier, and more fun, than ever before to make sure that all the parts of the answer of that vital question – “who are today’s EHMs?” – go viral.