Feb. 2017 Advocate: New York Times publishes John Kirk letter


New York Times publishes letter from emeritus CSM Professor John Kirk

John Kirk, emeritus CSM Economics Professor and long-time AFT 1493 Grievance Chair, spends some of his retirement time reading The New York Times (among many other publications) and, occasionally, he writes letters in response to some of the articles he reads. On August 12, 2016, The Times published one of his letters on how major corporations control politically-influential American think tanks. The letter was written in response to a series of Times articles that examined “how research institutions have become part of the corporate influence machine in Washington.” – ed.

To the Editor:

Your articles reflect what G. William Domhoff said almost 50 years ago in his book Who Rules America? Mr. Domhoff collected and collated the names of the board members of the largest corporations, think tanks, foundations and universities. Then he checked for interlocks between these institutions. He found plenty.

Just to test his methodology, I looked up the board of the American Enterprise Institute, the main focus of your Aug. 9 front-page article “Top Scholars or Lobbyists? Often It’s Both.” Its 2015 Annual Report lists as board members the chairman of the Carlyle Group, vice chairman of Molson Coors Brewing, chief executive of Crow Holdings, chairman of International Paper, former chairman of American Water Works, chairman emeritus of Cigna, chairman of State Farm Insurance, retired chief executive of Dell, etc.

The Harvard Board of Overseers includes the following corporate connections: Goldman Sachs, CVS, Sony Entertainment, PacificCoast Bank and Google.

Mr. Domhoff convincingly developed a model based on his study of interlocking directorates that showed how most public policy in the United States is privately determined in the boardrooms of large corporations and then revised and honed by foundation and think tank funding of university research. It is by no means a conspiracy; it is a well-organized machine.

Redwood City, Calif.

The writer is a retired professor of economics at the College of San Mateo.

A version of this letter appears in print on August 12, 2016, on page A22 of the New York edition with the headline: “Think Tanks and Corporate America.”