19 June 2009

Another corporate front, this one in the capital

The Fraser Institute is about to be complemented by another right-wing think tank, this one in Ottawa. Brian Lee Crowley, president of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies and F.A. Hayek disciple, is raising support for his Macdonald-Laurier Institute. Needless to say, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is ecstatic. He will host a private dinner at the Albany club to drum up Bay Street support for the institute.

Crowley claims his think tank will be non-partisan, but there's little doubt who will be paying the piper to hear appropriate tunes. Now that corporations are severely limited federally in their contributions to political parties, think tanks make excellent outlets for their propaganda. Of course they claim to be non-partisan, but who are they kidding with Bay Street picking up the tab. You don't have to tell hookers to wear short skirts -- they know what the boys like.

What annoys me is that we all have to pay the hookers. The money that corporations contribute to their various interests ultimately comes out of our pockets. If we want to eat, wear clothes, put a roof over our heads, etc., we have to buy stuff and that means putting money in the hands of businesses. That they use a portion to support right-wing propagandists like the Fraser Institute is damned annoying, yet impossible to avoid. You may prefer not to buy products from companies that contribute to groups you disapprove of, but because this is private business, their benefactors are confidential. You can never be sure who contributes to whom. You are not free to choose.

Democracy means political equality, and nothing corrupts political equality like money. If we want a truly democratic society, the effect of money must be neutralized and that means any organization that involves itself in politics, not just political parties, should be subject to strict funding rules. Contributions should be limited to individuals and to amounts most citizens can afford. Only if Crawley limits his institutes's funding thusly can he claim it to be non-partisan.

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