In my recent listing of organizations that fly under "false flags," using environmental-sounding names to advance anti-green causes, I missed the Consumers Alliance for Global Prosperity. It's got many trappings of an actual consumer advocacy group, but its major purpose seems to be advancing a political agenda: Bashing greens, unions and others deemed not sufficiently free market-positive.
"Multiple radical environmental groups make up a key portion of the Empires of Collusion," the Alliance says. On its list is everything from the middle of the road World Wildlife Fund to Greenpeace. The Rainforest Action Network (RAN) is described as a "far-right fringe group." That prompted some surprise from the network's spokeswoman, Nell Greenberg: "Wow, we've never been called that before," she said.Far left fringe group, now that they've heard. "We disagree with their premise that RAN is working against the consumer's interests," said the network's forest program director, Lindsey Allen.
The Alliance is a project of the Institute for Liberty, which Sourcewatch, a research project of the Center for Media and Democracy, describes as "a Washington D.C. think tank that opposes health care reform." The Washington Post reports that in 2008 the Institute was a one-man conservative band with a $25,000 budget, headquartered at a Virginia post office box.
But it soon morphed into a power shop with "a downtown Washington office and a $1 million advocacy campaign opposing President Obama's health-care plans." President Andrew Langer declined to say where the money comes from, other than to note that 2010 was "really serendipitous" for the Institute. Similar groups have been funded by the Koch brothers.
A specialty of both these groups is "smoking gun" memos, which the Alliance describes as "Collusion Files." A lot of heat is generated against activist group campaigns, but not much of it seems to be actually advocating for consumers. Then again, under "philosophy" on its website, we get this: "A consumer who is able to exercise his liberty and privileges in a free marketplace is a person whose dignity and autonomy are respected."
To its credit, the Alliance does sometimes go after corporations that waste taxpayer money. Read about how International Paper profits from scary-sounding "black liquor" here.
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