Education

Now They're Saying It in Public: Professor At Koch-Funded University Department Calls For 'Less Democracy'

Garett Jones of George Mason University claims that less democracy would lead to better governance.

By now, it's common knowledge that the Koch Brothers more or less own the Republican Party – having spent twice as much in election 2012 as the top ten unions combined.

But a lesser-known aspect of Koch influence is their spending on ideological warfare. The Kochs not only spend big in our elections, but they also finance a network of think tanks, advocacy campaigns, and even educational curricula in order to spread their message.

One example is George Mason University (GMU). Last year, a group of students protested the fact that the Charles Koch Foundation, which is the university's single largest donor, has given at least $23 million to the school since 2005.

This week, a GMU professor gave a speech on a topic that could've come right out of the Kochs' ideology – why we need “less democracy.”

Dr. Garett Jones, professor of Economics and BB&T Professor for the Study of Capitalism at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, gave a lecture on the aforementioned topic, taking aim at some of the core values this country is founded upon. Here's a summary from Fourth Estate, a GMU student paper:

Jones says that less democracy and more epistocracy could lead to better governance. Democracy leaves power to the majority while epistocracy allocates power to the knowledgeable. Jones did not imply that democracy should be eliminated, but lessened by 10% for the sake of long term economic growth.

According to Jones, less democracy would lead to better governance because politicians would be inclined to work on long term growth rather than spending to impress constituents during election season. Politicians try to please the public at the expense of neglecting long- term policies because they are elected through a democratic process.

For example, Jones said senators act like voters have short term memories. They make decisions to get reelected rather than spending their whole term focused on long-term growth.

Jones's remarks are fairly consistent with Koch political activity, which includes advocating for voter ID laws that are designed to drive down voter participation. On his GMU site, the university notes that Jones is not only an academic researcher, but that he has also served as Economic Policy Adviser to Senator Orrin Hatch and as a staff economist to the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress “ – bodies he apparently thinks are too democratic.

Zaid Jilani is an AlterNet staff writer. Follow @zaidjilani on Twitter.

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