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Manufacturing Controversy in Idaho

Teachers’ salaries are held hostage in a fringe far-right assault on public education

Vultures in Eagle clothing

Two weeks ago (April 13th, 2021), the Idaho House of Representatives voted 34-34 after a contentious debate on an appropriations bill. HB354 was supposed to fund K-12 education in the state, including salaries and benefits for teachers. Lacking the necessary majority support, it failed to advance.

Must-pass education budget bills such as this usually garner wide bi-partisan support from legislators and the public. Why did this one fail, and why now?

Apparently, many legislators were suddenly gripped with fear about ‘Critical Race Theory’ (CRT) and ‘Social Justice’ poisoning the minds of the state’s youth. The bizarre 70-minute spectacle on the house floor had all the trappings of Cold War-era McCarthyism. The commies are coming for the schools so we had better defund them and hide our kids, because someone heard something somewhere ( everyone is talking about it after all), and we’re gonna lose ‘merica if this budget bill passes.

In this video clip, Rep. Julianne Young asserts her love for teachers and then proceeds to makes a less-than-compelling case in rebuttal to claims that there is no evidence that CRT is being taught in Idaho schools:

It’s been said that there’s no evidence that this is being taught in our K-12 schools and I don’t have any documents that I can shop in front of you, but I can tell you that I have talked to parents in my district—in my districts, my legislative district (I won’t say which school district)—who tell me that their high school students are getting CRT from their government teacher in my district.[1]

So, I do believe that it’s an issue that needs to be addressed, it’s not a fringe issue, it’s a mainstream issue and it should be of significant concern to everyone of us regardless of which party we’re associated with or what we think our politics are.

In another video, Rep. Heather Scott also praises Idaho’s teachers, then attempts to explain her rationale for voting down a bill that would fund their salaries:

Our teachers are great, and we need to fund our teachers, but we need to protect our teachers from being forced to teach this garbage of social justice and including CRT.

At this point, someone raises an objection—unintelligible in the video—which I can only assume is regarding the use of the unqualified adjective ‘garbage’ to refer to CRT. She is lightly admonished to choose her words carefully as a point of order, after which she continues:

Teachers are given curriculum, they are given direction, and they are given agendas, and they need to stick to what they’re being told to do. I have no problem funding teachers, I just believe that this bill needs some intent language put in it to protect our teachers. I have teachers that are afraid to speak out—that call me—and they’re afraid to speak out because they have house payments, and they cannot leave their jobs. Intent language in here would be just one extra step we could do as legislators to help protect them from teaching stuff that is ideology and that is undermining our very foundations of this country. And it is happening, and schools are not like they used to be. Things are different. There’s a lot of—a lot of um—ideology coming into our schools and I would just encourage you to turn this back to JFAC [Joint Finance Appropriations Committee] and let them put some intent language in to protect our teachers, and I urge you to vote no on this bill.

Here’s yet another video clip from the debate. It begins with Rep. John Gannon speaking. I’ve transcribed the entirety of his comments because I believe he makes some very important points

I served on JFAC [in 2015 and 2016] and when I was on JFAC, I thought we weren’t supposed to get into policy, and that we were supposed to make budgets. There was a lot of criticism of JFAC at that time that JFAC was getting into policy, and that they didn’t have public hearings (which is absolutely true). There’s not a lot of room for public input, and so then, it was decided—or at least the directive was—we’re not going to do public policy. We’re not going to have [legislative intent language] and that kind of thing. That was limited, and it was limited for the exact purpose that we’re seeing today.

There’s been no public hearing if this goes back to JFAC and they make another budget. There’s been no public comment. There’s been no involvement—or very little. This should go through the education committee. It should go through a process.

As for the budget, which I think is really the germane debate here: You know, on March 10 of 2021, we had 46 districts [that] brought $299 million in bonds and levies, and voters approved $224 million in ballot measures. Remember, that’s property tax money, and property taxes are not terribly popular. The people, the voters, the people with kids in school—they want a budget for their kids that’s adequate, that works, and that attracts teachers to the profession and attracts teachers to the very, very important job they have.

If there’s a problem with policy, let’s go through the education committees, but let’s pass this budget, which really in my view, I’m having a hard time voting for because I don’t think it’s enough, especially considering that there’s another $224 million in property tax levies that were made in March, and property taxes will either stay the same or go up for many of our citizens

Rep. Gannon is then followed by Rep. Wendy Horman in the video, who makes another plea for the budget to be rejected and returned to JFAC so that “intent language” can be added to prohibit funds allocated for ‘professional development’ from being used for—what she calls—”discriminatory” training and policies.

So, why am I taking the time to write this up? Admittedly, K-12 budgets aren’t really something I spend a lot of time thinking about—especially since I’m single with no kids in K-12 schools. However, my brother is a high school teacher in Idaho and this has certainly affected him as well as all other teachers in the state.

There are two things that are worth noting that I learned from talking with my brother. I think these are important for context. First of all, Idaho teachers have already had at least a year’s worth of promotions withheld—they’re about a year behind on their progression ladder from what they should be earning due to COVID-19 and budget issues. That means that a lot of teachers in the state aren’t getting paid what they’ve earned and what they’ve been promised for their labor.

Secondly, the impression I get speaking with my brother and reading accounts and interviews with other Idaho teachers is that they’re pretty confused and baffled about the sudden concern regarding CRT. The legislators (and the special interest groups who I think have largely put them up to this—I’ll get to that shortly—make it sound as if the teachers are on their knees begging and pleading with them to make the CRT stop. The way the legislators are telling it, the teachers have come to their steps pleading with them to do something.[2]

Well, the legislators certainly did. They further withheld the pay the teachers are due by failing to pass the budget. Even if the teachers were pleading for action (which I doubt, and which doesn’t seem to be the case talking with my brother), I’m pretty sure that further sabotage of their pay is not the sort of ‘action’ the teachers find helpful. After all, as Rep. Heather Scott pointed out, they have “house payments” (and certainly other bills to pay). Shooting the budget down (which includes their salary) seems an odd way to ‘help’ the teachers with a ‘problem’ the teachers never had in the first place. The teachers at my brother’s school were at a loss trying to figure what or where in their curriculum the “garbage” (as Rep. Scott put it) was. Supposedly, they’re the monsters teaching CRT. But, they’re also the ones begging to be protected from it. This was all news to them. I’ll bet some even had to look up what CRT is (like I did) when they heard that it was the reason legislators are using to continue to withhold their long-overdue pay.

I shared some links to videos featuring legislators talking. But, what do Idaho teachers have to say about all of this ‘help’ they’re getting from legislators supposedly battling this ‘scourge’ of CRT? Here’s a video of an interview with one. In the opening, the anchor suggests that “misinformation about education [is] holding our public schools’ budgets hostage right now. The teacher makes some interesting points:

This is a manufactured argument

Teachers are not ‘social justice warriors’. Teachers are here to educate

He talks about a book they read, called Black Like Me, which is about a reporter’s experiences in the Jim Crow south. He points out:

There’s no possible way to talk about that book without talking about the race problem in America

It should not be controversial… it is not controversial to say that America has historically had a race problem. To say that is not true is just denying reality.

No one in our schools is trying to indoctrinate our students into any conservative or liberal agenda. There’re no agendas here. We’re here to teach the whole kit.

I don’t want my [students] to know my political leanings. My goal as a teacher is that they have no idea how I vote. My goal is for them to decide for themselves

I don’t think it’s the legislators business to be dictating the curriculum that we’re teaching but I certainly don’t feel like it does any good to specifically say, “You can’t teach these things because” we prefer a different view of our history,” one that’s really not accurate.

When asked about the motives behind this push to ban anything resembling CRT, he says:

I think this pushes from a group of people who prefer to see the world and America as they want it to be seen, not as it necessarily is. Teaching uncomfortable truths[3] in the classroom is one of the most difficult but rewarding parts of our job, because kids respond to it. Kids get subtlety. Teenagers get that there is nuance in the world.

The debate over whether or not CRT should be embraced is an important one and one that is dominating the dialog, but I’d like to bring attention to something else for the remainder of this article: Why are we suddenly having this debate now, and why is it being used as a reason by legislators to cripple and delay education budgets and teacher pay?

It’s as if a nefarious force has seemingly come out of nowhere to suddenly hijack the discourse over public education budgets, hold teachers hostage, and turn it into some sort of jingoist exhibition of ‘patriotism’, ‘freedom’, and fighting commies (of course).

Ladies and gentleman, may I direct your attention to… the Idaho Freedom Foundation.

The Idaho ‘Freedom’ Foundation

According to the 'About' page on their own site, the mission of the Idaho Freedom Foundation (IFF) is, “…to implement innovative ideas to deplete the power of special interests and free people from government dependency.” That page also states this: “The Idaho Freedom Foundation exists to advance conservative principles—limited government, free markets and self-reliance— [that] made our country the envy of the world.”[4] Another excerpt: “Idaho Freedom Foundation gives a voice to the voiceless, the people who don’t have the means, the time or the wherewithal to take on the special interests, which include labor unions, the government bureaucracy or businesses that seek a handout.”

As they tell it, they’re just a good ol’ home-grown think tank giving a voice to the ‘little guys’ in the fight against ‘special interests’. This rhetoric about fighting ‘special interests’ features prominently in their literature, videos, and materials.

IFF is a textbook example of the most special of special interest groups and one which represents everything they pretend to be against

In fact, IFF is a textbook example of the most special of special interest groups and one which represents everything they pretend to be against. Their campaign against funding education budgets in Idaho is a sophisticated perception management campaign, and a classic example of astroturfing—a technique to sway public opinion by masking the true sponsors of a message as if to make it appear as though it is an organic or ‘grassroots’ movement by the people. An example of this might be something like—oh, I don’t know—making it seem like every patriotic Idahoan and teacher is livid about CRT, and that defunding schools is the best way to combat this supposed enemy to the Idaho way of life. I’m sure there are individuals that do have legitimate concerns about CRT, but not to the extent that IFF would have you believe, and certainly not to the extent where teachers are pleading with legislators to withhold their salaries in order to address it.

I’m not saying that the debate around CRT is unjustified, but I don’t think it’s the pending doom that the IFF would have you believe it is. In fact, I don’t think the IFF actually cares all that much about CRT or ‘social justice’ at all. For them, it’s just something convenient to latch on to, to wield as a tool in order to foment a controversy or ‘manufactured issue’ to achieve their real objective: the complete defunding of public education, and the privatization of it, along with everything else if they had their way.

It’s important to note that despite all of the IFF’s rhetoric and propaganda about them being guardians of conservatism and the most devout of Republicans, they are nothing of the sort. But, please don’t take my word for it. I don’t consider myself a conservative Republican. Robert Stoddard does however. He’s chairman of the Lemhi County Republican Central Committee and he has this to say in an op-ed piece he penned:

The IFF is a third-party special interest group who has infiltrated the Republican Party with its radical right winged ideals. It gets funding close to $1 million each year. The president, Wayne Hoffman, is paid $133,000 a year for his duties. IFF has around seven full-time employees. One of these employees who is billed as “communications director” spends a large amount of his time threatening legislators who do not roll over and play dead when IFF calls a bill “anti-liberty.”

Stoddard brings to our attention this comment from retired Idaho Senator Jeff Siddoway published in the Post Register:

Wayne Hoffman offers accolades to his honor students in the legislature who just vote ‘NO.’ The IFF sets criteria and then applies a score to each bill in a way their staff wants. They operate just like Joseph McCarthy did back in the 1950s where he accused everyone that disagreed with him as being a communist. The Idaho Freedom Foundation operates the same way.

Idaho businessman Frank Vandersloot shares similar observations about the IFF from his experiences working to promote a bill that would—among other things—provide some relief and protections to Idahoans saddled with large amounts of medical debt from aggressive bill collectors. He shares his thoughts in this video.

Most people in Eastern Idaho have heard of Vandersloot. He’s the founder of a large multi-level marketing company; a prominent employer in the region and very active in promoting conservative politics. A controversial figure himself, one thing Vandersloot cannot be accused of is being a left-leaning Democrat, liberal, or socialist. So to hear him condemn the IFF and call them out for what they really are is telling. A few key points Vandersloot makes are these:

  • The IFF warps the concept of freedom, and hides under it like an umbrella to oppose it.
  • They exist to protect their own money and business interests.
  • It’s a secretive ‘club’, and they will bully anyone who threatens their profits and interests.
  • The IFF touts religion in ways that are inappropriate. This is significant because Vandersloot is often accused of the same, so if the IFF is even more extreme than him in this regard, than their positions must be very extreme indeed.
  • He doesn’t sugarcoat it. He calls them out as being “far right radical folks”
  • “They don’t always vote for freedom, they vote for things that line their own pocketbooks”

The bill Vandersloot was helping with (which ended up passing despite fierce IFF-backed opposition) put some—in my opinion—reasonable restrictions on aggressive medical debt collection practices. Interestingly enough, one of the IFF’s powerful members runs a medical debt collection business.

Vandersloot also makes another important point about people needing to, “know who you are following.” This ties in very well with my next point, because I’m afraid many well-meaning and well-intentioned Idahoans see IFF’s slick marketing and social media blitzes, and jump on the bandwagon thinking it sounds good, and they’re not wrong. It does sound and look good, because it’s slick propaganda designed to do just that. They talk a good game about ‘freedom’ after all, and what commie rat would be against that, right? They’re (seemingly) all about ‘transparency’ and lodge many grievances against government for not being ‘transparent’ enough (complaints that aren’t all entirely without merit by the way). Like any good deception, IFF’s propaganda is convincing to many because they do occasionally stumble into valid points here and there while wading around BS creek; like the skyrocketing costs of higher education for example. However, their proposed ‘solution’ to all of these problems is utterly ridiculous (and dangerous), and to understand why, let’s take Vandersloot’s advice to, “know who you are following” and dig a little deeper into who (and what) the IFF is, and where their funding comes from.

Phantom Funding

As it turns out, this is quite difficult. It’s impossible to know for sure where all of their funding comes from, because it’s largely anonymous. This article contains a nice chart of where the IFF’s funding comes from,[5] and the majority of it is unhelpfully labeled: “We Don’t Know.”

Funny… the group that campaigns relentlessly for ‘transparency’ doesn’t seem to be very transparent in regards to their own funding.

We do know enough about where a significant amount of it comes from though to begin to understand what this group actually is, and what its motives might be. Some major sources of funding that are significant are:

Attempting to explain the maze and web of special interests, lobbying groups, and think tanks that stem out from large contributors backing groups like IFF would be way beyond the scope of this article, so I’ve linked the 4 listed above to the relevant entry on SourceWatch, an excellent source of information for shedding some transparency on groups such as these. Of course, the SourceWatch page on IFF itself has a lot more information and is a great starting point for further information as well.

IFF is also affiliated with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN). These were started by Charles Koch (of Koch Industries) and act as the parent organization for state-based affiliates (like IFF in Idaho). Among other things, they create ‘model’ bills, and sometimes even write the legislation that then gets hawked by the legislators to whom they lobby and have in their back pockets. This document also goes into more depth on how ALEC and SPN work to push the mostly-corporate special interests of deregulation and privatization of public services for profit.

As much as the IFF loves to pretend that they are some home-grown grassroots initiative, the truth is that it is just the Idaho regional office of a national (and international) lobbying effort to push the far-right libertarian agenda of the wealthy and large corporations. This agenda essentially boils down to deregulation, and the defunding and dismantling of public programs and spending in order to privatize everything. Ultimately, this means more profits and less/no taxes for the very rich at the expense of the ‘little guys’ (i.e. the ‘voiceless’) to whom the IFF so condescendingly pretends to be giving a voice.

I think Shawn Vestal sums it up nicely in his op-ed piece published by the Spokesman-Review:

In a state where the political divide is conservative versus more conservative versus most conservative, the IFF has always held itself up as the arbiter of true conservatism. Its positions are often the most extreme anti-government takes, and it seems to be guided by a set of libertarian principles devised by a high school junior who just discovered Ayn Rand.

What they really mean is ‘freedom’ for wealthy owners of private capital to make their profits however they see fit

This libertarian infatuation with eliminating the government and all of its pesky taxes and regulations, privatizing everything, and leaving it up to ‘the market’ to manage society is a really bad idea in my opinion. But, that is a much larger debate also out of the scope of this article. The main thing I wish for people to understand is that when groups like the IFF talk about ‘freedom’, what they really mean is ‘freedom’ for wealthy owners of private capital to make their profits however they see fit (and by whatever means is profitable in the market) without consequences and with complete disregard for how their activities might negatively impact society and even their own workers.

If this means that pesky government rules mandate that tobacco companies can’t use child labor in fields, nor sell their product to children, nor run ads claiming that their cancer sticks have health benefits, then these regulations are ‘bad’. So, in response, they fire up their lobbying war chest to engage in astroturfing and propaganda campaigns in order to get the public on board with the idea that government is always bad, and that the regulations they create are always bad too.[6]

They convince people that corporations should regulate themselves, and that the market will ensure that nothing can ever go wrong as long as it is just left alone. They wrap all of this up in a package and sell it as ‘freedom’, ‘individual rights’, ‘low taxes’ and ‘personal choice’—all things that sound great on the surface… until you realize it’s being pushed by a tobacco company whose real intent is to cripple the government’s ability to cut into its profits by making pesky rules about marketing highly-addictive cancer sticks to minors. Or, telling an oil company (like Koch Industries) that they can’t decimate the environment and must pay their fair share of the tax burden to help maintain the public infrastructure they profit from by using it to manufacture and ship their product.

Now that we realize that the IFF and their lackeys in the legislature are nothing more than shills for libertarian billionaires and the likes of Koch Industries and Coors, let’s get back to the topic at hand: the K-12 budget for Idaho’s schools and teacher salaries. Take note that another source of funding to IFF comes from an entity calld EdChoice. If you look into this group a bit, you’ll realize that their sole priority is to push the privatization of education. IFF is certainly a willing accomplice in this endeavor.

It’s pretty obvious that privatizing schools and turning them into for-profit money-making schemes is a big priority for IFF. Just as tobacco companies preferred the term, “enhance personal choice” over “remove regulations restricting the targeting of youth in tobacco ads,” IFF prefers the term, “expanding school choice” as code for pushing the privatization of K-12 education. Take a look at this document from their site. It states:

We should embrace innovative approaches to education in our modern world. This is an opportunity to consider options such as expanding school choice, reducing barriers to teaching and attract great teachers,[7] and expand self-directed, skills-based education (like apprenticeships and entrepreneurship) to equip students to conquer the challenges that await them.

Here’s some more relevant extracts from another IFF document explaining how a recent court case could pave the way for the privatization of K-12 education in Idaho:

It is one thing to be able to choose a charter school rather than the local public school, but true education choice must include options beyond government schools.

The confluence of these factors creates both opportunity and obligation. Gem State students need education choice and they need it now. Options abound from vouchers, ESAs, and education savings accounts to charter teachers, micro-schools, and creative tax policy. The best solution may well incorporate elements from several of these ideas.

This is no time for timidity and restraint. This is the time to be bold and to move forward quickly and decisively. Idaho can be a leader and make sure that all Idaho students have the opportunity to receive a world-class education — not based on uniformity and standardization but based on the unlimited potential and power of the free market.

Yes, the free-market will solve all of our education woes, just as the free market has made US healthcare some of the most affordable and accessible in the world. It’s certainly done wonders to keep higher education costs down too! (*cough* *cough*). Just think, in the libertarian market-based paradise of competing K-12 private schools, your kids might not have one if it suddenly goes out of business. Do you get your tuition money back if it does? You’ll have to get your kid transferred to a different private school quickly (at a premium price of course); one which might not use compatible standards. Hopefully your 1st grader’s ‘credits’ transfer.

Imagine the joys of having to pay your K-12 loans, in addition to your college loans. If you drown in K-12 student loan debt, the fine gentleman of the IFF who fought legislation that would cut into the profits of his medical debt collection business, will be standing by to fire up a K-12 debt collection racket to profit off all of this.

I personally think there is merit in a public school system with compatible and transferable standards, but the folks at IFF and EdChoice seem vehemently opposed to that. In addition, they have no qualms with actively sabotaging public school funding and budgets and holding them hostage to get what they want. Take a look at this article from IFF’s website. Yet again, it’s complaining about all of the education students are receiving in anti-racism. It doesn’t really explain very well why teaching any of this is bad… just that it’s somehow a “Marxist hell.”[8] This line is telling:

Legislators must respond to the incredible arrogance of activists on Boise State’s campus by starving the university of funds until true education at the university is restored.

Ahh, there it is. So yes, the IFF isn’t even trying to hide the fact that they are intent on taking budgets hostage to achieve their agenda. The irony of all this is that they claim they are doing this to defeat some communist/socialist/Marxist agenda when in reality it is their agenda of dismantling and defunding all public services in the name of privatization which is truly the radical ‘fringe’ one.

If there’s any doubt that IFF & Co. are using red-baiting as a fearmongering tactic to manufacture merit-less controversy in order to sabotage public education funding, take a look at this handout from their site: Socialism In Schools

It’s quite comical if you actually understand what socialism is (hint: it is not simply ‘the government spending money’). The Soviet-looking font and graphic design is pretty creative though—I do give the IFF credit for that. Apparently the ‘proof’ of socialism in schools is a handful of quotes mostly about FDR and the ‘New Deal’, including this one:

Roosevelt’s ideas really were a ‘New Deal’… He probably saved American capitalism, but he changed some of its habits.

This is absolutely true. FDR did save capitalism, and was a capitalist. But apparently, the man who saved capitalism in America, is still not capitalist enough for the IFF, and thus, this tidbit about FDR is somehow… socialism in schools? Ha! I wish true socialist theory really was being taught in Idaho K-12 schools. Now that would be interesting, and at least then the IFF would have some actual examples to use in their literature. Quotes about FDR saving capitalism just goes to show that they don’t, because Idaho K-12 schools are simply not teaching or reading Marx, Lenin, or Trotsky. Not any I’ve heard of anyways, and I don’t think my brother has encountered that teaching at his school either.

Here’s another example of ‘socialism’ being taught in Idaho schools according to the IFF:

A troubling aspect of 21st-century social issues is the growing income gap between America’s rich and poor. Economists and politicians have listed various causes of the widening income gap.

  • Tax policies have changed in recent decades to favor the rich.
  • The decline of labor unions has led to lower incomes and less political influence for blue-collar workers
  • Corporate CEOs receive huge salaries that are hundreds of times larger than their lowest-paid employees’ salaries. Competition among businesses keeps those salaries high.

These are all just facts about capitalism. Apparently, any critical critique of the existing system is ‘socialism’ that should be censored according to the IFF. This makes me wonder… What excerpt would the IFF find acceptable? Would textbooks even be allowed to mention any president other than Reagan in flattering terms? It seems to me that the IFF’s bogus complaint of ‘socialist’ propaganda in Idaho’s schools (including CRT) is really just an effort to hold budgets hostage and demand that more of their own far-right fringe libertarian ideas be adopted. I don’t think it’s a Marxist hell that Idahoans should be afraid of. The real threat at the door is a jingoist hell of white-washed history scrubbed clean of any inconvenient truths, taught in a non-standardized mess of incompatible private for-profit K-12 schools.

Any critical critique of the existing system is ‘socialism’ that should be censored according to the IFF

The only exception to libertarian opposition to taxation seems to be when tax money is funneled into for-profit privatized companies,[9] and that’s essentially what these various private education schemes do. The IFF and its supporters will oppose any public spending or tax, unless it’s one that diverts public funds to privatization schemes that they can wedge themselves into, thus lining their pockets from every Idaho student. These public funds should directly benefit the schools, teachers—and most importantly—students, not the bank accounts of IFF lobbyists and their private education backers hoping to siphon it off as personal profit.

If the legislators taking orders from the IFF want to spend time debating CRT, fine. Send it through the proper channels where curriculum and policy is debated. And, how about this? The next time legislators try to score points with the IFF by needlessly holding up routine education budgets due to this astroturfing nonsense, the salaries that get tied up and withheld in the kerfuffle should be theirs, not the teachers.

Ryli Dunlap

  1. ↩︎ The sole comment on this video from a viewer (as of April 27th, 2021) pretty much sums up my thoughts as well:

    This argument would not hold up in a court of law. No “guilty” names, no specific incidents, hearsay only. But let’s punish all the teachers anyway. Shame on you Idaho Legislature

  2. ↩︎ In this absurd victory lap of an article on Idaho Freedom Foundation’s site, executive director Wayne Hoffman proclaims: “Teachers asked lawmakers for help, and lawmakers said they would deliver.” Yes, I’m sure the teachers were just begging lawmakers to not approve their already-delayed pay.

  3. ↩︎ I elaborate a bit more on my thoughts regarding this concerted push to ban anything in the curriculum that could be considered ‘uncomfortable truths’ in my commentary on an op-ed piece addressing the same topic.

  4. ↩︎ I’m not sure who they polled to determine that the US is in fact the envy of the world, but IFF literature is chock full of these sorts of subjective claims and arrogant jingoist language.

  5. ↩︎ This site is also very helpful in shedding some light on where the IFF (and other groups like it) get their funding.

  6. ↩︎ I’m not just using the tobacco industry as an example here for fun. It’s well documented that many of these libertarian ‘think tanks’ and lobbying groups were started and funded by big tobacco as part of a large, concerted effort to push back against the regulations that governments began making to hold them accountable for misleading the public for decades about the harmful effects of their products. For example, the libertarian Mises Institute was staffed by several individuals who were also tobacco industry lobbyists and members of the Cash for Comments Economists Network, which SourceWatch calls, “one of the most successful, and long-lasting of all the scams run by the tobacco industry.” The tobacco industry’s lobbying efforts to de-fang the government’s ability to regulate it under the guise of ‘freedom’ and ‘public choice’ libertarian ideology was pervasive—so much so that SourceWatch has an entire portal dedicated solely to it. The World Health Organization published this document on the matter as well and it’s an interesting case study: Tobacco Industry Tactics for Resisting Public Policy on Health

  7. ↩︎ Funny how the IFF seems really concerned about ‘attracting great teachers’, but doesn’t seem to care about sabotaging the pay of the ones we’ve already got. Crippling K-12 teacher pay via obstructionist political tactics is hardly going to help attract top talent… but that’s exactly their strategy. Sabotage of the existing public system so they can replace it with their for-profit ‘market-based’ panacea.

  8. ↩︎ Though most Marxists and socialists would agree with many of the ideas presented in CRT (particularly the notion that systematic racism has been present and continues to be an issue in societies—especially capitalistic and imperialistic ones), I don’t think it’s accurate to say that CRT is exclusively a ‘Marxist’ ideology. CRT emerged in the 1970’s and 1980’s in the USA, long after Marx’s time. Yet Marx and ‘Marxian’ is mentioned at least 6 times in this article.

  9. ↩︎ Or, when members of the IFF apply for and receive millions in federal taxpayer-funded PPP relief for their businesses. It’s kind of ironic (perhaps hypocritical?) that members of a group ostensibly opposed to any government spending are more than happy to take PPP money.