Tuesday, August 15, 2006

With Friends Like CAGW . . .

According to Mark Hyman, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) is on your side.

That’s only true if you’re an executive at
Microsoft or Philip Morris, have parents worth tens of millions of dollars, own your own chain of health clubs, or are a Mexican avocado magnate.

The organization that Hyman cites as a “non-partisan” watchdog on government waste is actually
a conservative think tank funded by right-wing foundations and large corporate donors. Hyman’s own editorial is a tip off; note that his list of CAGW’s “worst offenders” are all Democrats, while the list of “friends of taxpayers” are all Republican.

Given the exponential growth of ear-marked projects under Republican control of Congress, you’d think that a truly non-partisan group looking out for government waste would be a bit more bipartisan than that.

But this would be assuming that CAGW is actually looking out for the ordinary American taxpayer. They aren’t. They’re
first loyalty is to huge corporations. A steadfast supporter of corporo-socialism, CAGW actively works against anti-trust regulations, such as those that led to the lawsuit against Microsoft.
Understandably, America’s corporate giants love CAGW.
Big business can pay CAGW to lobby for their interests, but because CAGW doesn’t disclose their donors and because of its alleged “non-partisan” status, corporations can push their agenda through a group that doesn’t appear to be attached to them. It’s influence-laundering.

Thus, you get CAGW actively campaigning against things that help individual citizens and their children, such as open-source software, regulations against tobacco companies, and restrictions on hard liquor advertising and sales, all because corporations that oppose them have hired CAGW to do their dirty work. CAGW has even been charged with
manufacturing phony letters to create faux “grass roots” campaigns.

You don’t even have to be an American company to profit from CAGW’s services.
Mexican avocado growers gave CAGW $100,000 to lobby on their behalf. True, avocados aren’t exactly a major issue facing American taxpayers, but for a hundred grand, CAGW is more than willing to treat avocados like an issue of life and death.

And as far as fighting against wasting taxpayer money, CAGW proves that “pork” is a subjective term. They are proponents of repealing the estate tax, which only affects a few thousand of the country’s richest families, and the repeal of which will add greatly to budget deficits that will affect the lives of average Americans, either by eliminating services or requiring them to make up the difference through increases in their own taxes.

Then there’s the YMCA. According to CAGW, the “Y” is pork. That might surprise you, given the organization’s long history of civic involvement. But once you find out that the health club industry has hired CAGW to lobby on their behalf, the mystery clears up quite suddenly.

So when listening to Hyman tick off who your friends and enemies are, according to CAGW, take it with a large pinch of salt to add to your guacamole.

And that’s The Counterpoint.

Hyman Index: 4.72


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