Friday, September 28, 2007

1992 - The Howie Rich Front for Corporate Control of America

The Crane Machine launches a stealth campaign, using initiatives – 1992

After probing around in the Republican Party and working to get visibility for themselves through Cato with Congress for nearly a full decade the cadre of people around Crane, which was pretty much unchanged since their exit from the New York Convention in 1983, acquired a new toy. 

That was an organization that the Koch Brothers had not been able to use effectively, this was the Citizens for Congressional Reform. Acquiring this not for profit spawned an incredible proliferation of identical not-for-profit organizations, each dedicated to doing pretty much the same thing and many created by the same web designers. That was to use a stealth approach to employing the initiative process to change the laws in states where this was allowed. This fit in exactly with the original game plan of the Crane Machine. Crane had always viewed local activists as an obstacle to action within the LP unless those acting locally were directly under his control. 
In employing this growing collection of nonprofits for the Kochs Crane had extended that approach to Americans as a whole. The first of these organization, U. S. Term Limits, focused on limiting the number of terms for any elected legislator. It would be followed by initiatives that promoted an end to eminent domain, school choice, and spending caps by government and eventually measures such as legislation relating to end of life issues raised by the Terry Schrivo Case. 
Many individuals in various states had worked for these kinds of measure; the problem was not the use of the initiative process, a tool introduced by the Populists to allow local people to change government, making it responsive to their needs. it was the means that made the Crane – Rich strategy questionable. 
The initiatives themselves often caused problems because they did not reflect the needs of those who had to live with the resulting law. Even more egregiously, the initiatives were deceptively run as 'grass roots' efforts to potential donors outside the state when they had not real support within the state and left no body of local expertise or enhanced organization in their wake. It was a reprise of the Crane – Clark Campaign, this time run at a profit. Unused funds were transferred into the accounts of those who Crane and Howie had known and worked with since the 70s. 
But worse than this pilfering of funds was the lack of goals and a consistent strategy to achieve goals that advanced the cause of freedom and local control. 
In the original vision of American government the Founders had assumed that local towns and the people who lived in them would make their own rules in how they structures their lives. This could be seen as a multitude of small experiments in living that would allow for a learning curve, helping a free people develop the means of reducing conflict as they learned to live outside of a traditional hierarchy imposed from the outside. 

 The model for local government had fallen victim to the centralization of power both by states and by the Federalizing of power. Presumably, returning to this original model should have been on the agenda for all libertarians, both those within the Party, those in think tanks like Cato, and those who were in the non-party movement. It was not. Instead these variously followed strategies of conquest, disinformation, and withdrawal into insulated groups that ignored the mainstream entirely. Only a few individuals within the movement as a whole followed strategies that served to focus their activism on local organizing on issues that then could serve to develop the skills of small governance using persuasion and consent. 
Sometimes things are just too obvious to grasp, especially, perhaps, when those making the decisions have a very different conception of what freedom means. 
Through the next 15 years the Crane Machine would produce cookie cutter nonprofits by the dozens hat only served to develop local organization when their activities antagonized local people so much they organized to oppose the initiatives that the Crane Machine fielded, using out of state contractors, signature gatherers, and outside millions. In some cases the Crane – Howie Machine would outspend local activists six to one to get their measures passed into law. Those who provided the funding would be, ironically enough, the same corporations who had become of entrenched subsidizers of big government who demonstrably had strong economic incentives in this serial campaign that changed law without educating or empowering local people and grass roots democracy. 
This leaves the question of whether or not the Crane Machine intended to sell its services to Big Government to the judgment of the reader. It is possible they were blinded by their own ideology, which was founded in the naive, bodice ripping unreality of Rand. The Richs especially had come to the movement through the NBI in New York and through wealth and age had become elder statesmen in this micro cult. 

See the 2006 articles by Hart Williams.  Index is HERE

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