Wall Street Journal Honcho Shills for Secret Worker 'Education' Program Linked to Koch Group
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Following Fund's presentation, Timothy Nerenz, executive vice president of the Oldenburg Group, a privately held, Wisconsin-based manufacturer of mining and defense equipment and commercial lighting, sketched out the salutary effects of Prosperity 101 on his employees. Nerenz, 56, a bespectacled and wry end-the-Fed libertarian who launched a brief run for Congress in Wisconsin's 2nd District last year, spoke of how his company's facilities have book exchanges like the one that so impressed Reagan, for which Nerenz took to supplying some of his favorite texts. He cited, by way of illustration, Ayn Rand's libertarian classic, Atlas Shrugged (which, during an appearance on Glenn Beck's radio program, Moore called "my bible".)
Then, Nerenz said, he began putting copies of the Prosperity 101 textbook into circulation, and found it a useful resource for talking to his employees about issues that affected Oldenburg's interests, which he identified as "card check" (a reference to the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for private-sector workers to form a union), "cap and trade" (the carbon-trading scheme in the Obama energy reform proposal), and health-care reform.
"If cap-and-trade passes, it means half of our factories are in jeopardy," he said, as if talking to his workers. "We probably will not be able to operate. You ration my energy, I can't run this factory. I've got at least twelve countries who want me to move it there."
Then Nerenz turned to the question of unions. "Now, you certainly have a right to a union, right?" he said. "You got rights, I got rights, all God's children got rights. But you need to know before you make that decision what's involved in that decision."
When I pressed him after the panel to clarify whether he was threatening to shut down factories whose workers chose to unionize, he said, "It's not a threat, it's just a statement of fact: We don't operate union facilities." He added that his employees have shown they don't want a union, anyway, since previous attempts to organize in his factories have failed.
Herman Cain, who had delivered a rousing speech earlier in the day at the conference's general session, wrapped up the breakout. An anomaly among the Tea Party crowd, Cain is African American, and his presidential bid positions him as a kind of anti-Obama steeped in free-market principles.
"Now, it's probably wise to give up on a lot of the stupid people" running government, said the 65-year-old businessman. "But there are a lot of uninformed people...They just have not been given access to easy-to-understand information about some of the garbage that they are hearing about these various pieces of legislation. So, it's this uninformed group that is the target for Prosperity 101."
The Moore Factor
None of the key players behind Prosperity 101 were keen to speak to AlterNet, and Stephen Moore, the Wall Street Journal editorial board member, was no exception. After Moore failed to respond to an e-mail request for an interview, I tracked down him at last September's Values Voter Summit, an annual political gathering of the Christian right in Washington, D.C., where he took part in a break-out session sponsored by the Heritage Foundation on why fiscal conservatism is a natural part of the "family values" agenda.
Heritage is one of the two Koch-funded think tanks through which Moore launched his career as an anti-tax guru; the other is the Cato Institute. Both Cato and the Heritage Foundation issue materials denying the human role in climate change, a major tenet of the Koch agenda, as Koch Industries' core businesses are rooted in oil and gas. Moore has repeatedly told audiences that global warming is "the greatest hoax of the last 100 years."