6 Insane Conspiracies Hiding Behind Non-Profit Groups
Not a day goes by that you won't hear an ad or message from some well-meaning group called the "Council for (insert good cause here)" or "Concerned Citizens for (whatever) or "The _______ Committee for Responsible ________." They sound like charity groups, and they're always advocating for some kind of common-sense cause, from stopping littering to quitting smoking.
It all seems like the kind of thing only a total dick would complain about. And that's the idea; behind many of them are big-money interests trying to hijack your goodwill for their own, usually greedy, purposes.
Operation Make America Even Fatter
Billed as a libertarian-style group supporting the free choice of consumers, The Center for Consumer Freedom runs websites and ad campaigns opposing food-related attacks on our liberty. So for instance, when other groups concerned about childhood obesity push to ban toys from Happy Meals or ask the Girl Scouts to sell healthier snacks, The Center for Consumer Freedom is the one who jumps in and says people should be able to eat what they want, dammit. So it comes off as kind of a group of regular dudes restoring some common sense to a politically correct world. Seems pretty reasonable.
"The Center for Responsible Use of Nachos" didn't have the same ring to it.
And it's a big deal -- it pressured the government's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to lower its estimate of 400,000 yearly obesity-related deaths in America down to just over 100,000, and it's often referenced as a group of experts in mainstream news sources.
Wait, something's not right here ...
They're basically paid shills for the restaurant industry.
That picture gets a littler clearer when you realize they also run ObesityMyths.com, which corrects common "myths" about obesity, like "being really fat might make you die" and "eating a lot can make you gain weight" (these ridiculous falsehoods are apparently spun by pro-dieting groups in order to profit from weight-loss drugs and diet plans). And that's not all. According to The Center For Consumer Freedom, high-fructose corn syrup is actually pretty cool, mercury in fish is overhyped and compulsory warning labels on foods are for sissies. So who would pay big money to lobby for that?
The Center for Consumer Freedom receives most of its funding from the restaurant, food and gaming industry, including Coca-Cola, Wendy's and Outback Steakhouse. And also Monsanto, which might have something to do with why it thinks that groups against genetic engineering are "anti-choice nannies."
"The faster we get mutant food, the faster we get real mutants."
Basically, restaurants want you to think that eating their crap without knowing what's in it is just awesome, and they know that using a nonprofit group as a front is more effective than getting a guy in a burger costume to crash Congress.
Physicians Committee for Making Your Child a Vegan
If The Center for Consumer Freedom makes you want to punch burgers in the face, you might approve more of these guys. The Luke Skywalker to the center's Darth Vader, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is on the cutting edge when it comes to healthy food and disease prevention. According to its website, it advocates "compassionate and effective medical practice, research, and health promotion." It's published articles in respected medical journals about vegan diets for children, and like the Center for Consumer Freedom, it is frequently quoted in the mainstream media.
This is what happens when you have your logo designed by the lowest bidder.
The PCRM also runs the Cancer Project, another association that explores the "link between nutrition and cancer." The site offers recipes, personalized advice, cooking classes and a wealth of cancer information. Yet another helpful project of the physicians, called Atkins Diet Alert, provides important medical information on the possible dangers of low-carb dieting, although sadly, it completely avoids the term "bacon overdose."
The best way to die?
Wait, something's not right here ...
Look closely at the PCRM website, and you'll notice that the physicians' health advice on every medical problem from arthritis to PMS centers on removal of meat and animal products. In fact, they seem to think that a vegetarian diet alone is pretty much all it takes to cure cancer. You know, this is beginning to remind us a little of some guys who aren't just vegetarian, but really, really vegetarian.
Yes, the PCRM has strong and mysterious ties to PETA, the animal rights group that other animal rights groups avoid at parties. If you're not familiar with PETA, it's the group famous for suggesting that Ben and Jerry's ice cream replace animal milk with human breast milk and renaming fish "sea kittens." It has also been responsible for more women taking off their clothes irresponsibly than the invention of 2-for-1 Jello shots.
The founder of the PCRM, Neal Barnard, sat on the board of the PETA Foundation, the unimaginatively named group that managed PETA's assets, until 2005. Barnard still writes columns for PETA's quarterly magazine, and PETA has provided the PCRM with large amounts of funding. In fact, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine could almost be called the physician arm of PETA, if it weren't for the fact that 95 percent of its members are not physicians, and that the "physician" who runs the group is actually a nonpracticing psychiatrist.
"Your depression stems from childhood sexual trauma. Also, the beef industry."
The PCRM has recently cut its more obvious ties with PETA, but the group is still affected by a particular brand of crazy. It has protested leading cancer and AIDS charities on the grounds that their work involves animal experiments, and it also advocates strict vegan diets for young children, something that can occasionally get you arrested for murder.
Now, to be clear, we have no problem at all with somebody starting a vegan advocacy group lobbying for veganism and calling itself "Concerned Vegans for Various Vegan Things." That's not the problem. The problem is that this group hides its entire agenda behind a curtain bearing the intentionally vague "Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine" name because it knows that in general, people are annoyed by hardcore vegans and tend to openly mock PETA. So from the start, there is this scent of dishonesty and ulterior motive behind every single thing it says.
It's like they think they're better than everyone else.
The Citizens Commission for a Crazy Space Cult
The Citizens Commission on Human Rights is a "nonprofit mental health watchdog" that protects citizens from "psychiatric abuse." It has been around since 1969, and it's good at what it does. In 1976, it successfully lobbied for legislation that limited the use of electroshock therapy, and it was one of the main lobbying groups that recently pressured the FDA into putting "black box" labels on antidepressants warning of a risk of suicide. It also influenced the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in its decision to issue warnings about the overdiagnosis of ADD in young people.
Damn, even the U.N. thinks these guys are swell!
Well, we can't see evidence of any bias.
Wait, something's not right here...
Half of you have already guessed who's behind this.
Yes, if you look a bit deeper, it seems like the CCHR is maybe even more devoted to ending psychiatric abuse than any of the stuff above would suggest. In fact, the more you look at its literature, the more it becomes apparent that this group believes that all psychiatrists are frauds, and that psychiatric drugs -- all of them -- are "chemical toxins with the power to kill."
Is this reminding you of anything? If you can't guess, here's a clue:
That's right. The Citizens Commission on Human Rights was founded by the Church of Scientology, which still controls it entirely. Basically, it's one of those "Free Stress Test" setups you see on city streets, only with a hand-painted anti-psychiatrist sign slapped over the top.
But a connection to Scientology doesn't automatically make them crazy, right?
Not at all. But, in 2005, the president of the group's Florida chapter did say that psychiatry's "drugs and conditioning techniques" directly led to the terrorist attacks on 9/11, which we assume could have been prevented if only Osama bin Laden had read the "May Cause Terrorism" warning label on his Lexapro prescription.
Commission members have also declared that psychiatry is the main cause of decline in the universe (fuck you, law of entropy!). Just in case that is not batshit insane enough for you, they also believe that psychiatrists are secretly controlled by alien entities called "Marcabs" who arrived on Earth 225,000 years ago.
The commission doesn't want to prevent abuse. It wants to obliterate the field of psychiatry altogether. And what do you think it wants to replace the healing powers of every current stream of mental health science with?
Hint: It's not Buddhism.
Californians for Statewide Smoking "Restrictions"
In 1994, Californians for Statewide Smoking Restrictions tirelessly collected several hundred thousand signatures throughout California to put a referendum on the ballot in that year's midterm elections. The referendum, Proposition 188, called for uniform anti-smoking ordinances on a statewide level, and this group quickly began a wide advertising campaign that included billboards reading "Tough Statewide Smoking Restrictions: The Right Choice."
Using your hand as an ashtray is The Wrong Choice.
Well, hell, it's an anti-smoking group. They're everywhere, and for good reason. There can't possibly be anything wrong with this...
Wait, something's not right here ...
Support for the referendum, while initially high, fell dramatically as the election approached, and Proposition 188 was finally rejected by almost three-quarters of voters. This might have been due to the fact that opposition-funded advertising had let everyone know that Californians for Statewide Smoking Restrictions was funded to the tune of $18 million by ... wait for it ...
... tobacco giant Philip Morris, maker of Marlboro and several other brands of cigarettes.
Stop smoking. This message is brought to you by the tobacco industry.
It came out that Philip Morris had arranged for a PR firm to set up the group in order to collect the required signatures. The people signing the anti-smoking petition didn't know this, presumably because the guys collecting signatures hid behind the bleachers and then furtively sprayed deodorant over their clothes before they started.
So, why the hell was Philip Morris advocating "Smoking Restrictions?" Because the referendum actually would have made tobacco laws less restrictive by replacing hundreds of local ordinances with a single, statewide one. This involved liberalizing smoking rights in restaurants and other businesses, cutting down on ventilation standards and overturning local smoking bans. Well, they weren't technically lying, right? Right?
What is "truth" anyway?
But hey, they did lose, and 1994 is a long time ago in Internet years. Clearly all this shady Big Tobacco funding is in the past! Not quite: In 2006, a group called the Foundation for Lung Cancer was established by scientists conducting a study, eventually published in The New England Journal of Medicine, that claimed that up to 80 percent of lung cancer deaths could be avoided by increased CT scans. To cut a long story short, it turned out that the Foundation for Lung Cancer was actually the Foundation for Lung Cancer. It was sponsored to the tune of $3.5 million by tobacco company Liggett Group, which presumably was interested in people being less worried about its products killing them.
Keep America Beautiful for Pepsi Co
You probably recognize this group as the guys behind the famous TV ad about the crying Native American, reduced to tears at what the white man's love for tossing Dr Pepper cans out of his station wagon had done to his land. Around since 1953, it's also known for being goddamn huge: It's the largest "community improvement" group in the U.S.
Since 1999, it has run the "Great American Cleanup," in which millions of Americans work together to remove litter from their local communities.
Wait, something's not right here ...
But there's something a little bit off about Keep America Beautiful, and it's not just the fact that it uses fake Indians in its ads.
Great Chief Fullashit.
Along with opposing mandatory recycling, Keep America Beautiful has devoted itself over the years to fighting deposit laws. Deposit laws are what's behind those messages on the side of your Coke can offering you (or more likely, a homeless guy) 5 or 10 cents for returning it. In other words, it forces the bottler to buy the containers back from you after you're done with them. These laws were put into place to fight litter, since making the bottles and cans valuable both discouraged people from throwing them away and encouraged others to collect cans they find for easy cash. The laws work, too -- they've been found to reduce litter by over 60 percent and triple recycling rates.
In other words, the laws greatly reduce the problem that Keep America Beautiful is so adamantly trying to fight. Judging by these dramatic results, we Americans just don't care about crying Indians as much as we do about cold, hard nickels.
"Tonight's heroin, courtesy of seven frat parties."
So why oppose these laws? Well, it might have something to do with the fact that KAB's current CEO is an ex-PepsiCo vice president, and that the company donated $500,000 to the group in 2009. Other beverage companies, such as Coke and Anheuser-Busch, are also major contributors. Beverage companies are famously opposed to deposit laws, since they tend to make the producers of beverage containers responsible for collection programs, an expensive responsibility that they're happy to push back onto consumers, i.e., you.
So what's with all the anti-littering ads and campaigns? Well, instead of you getting paid not to litter -- in the form of money you get from cans and bottles -- the idea is to reduce litter by simply ladling out huge amounts of guilt. The less trash on the ground, the less pressure on the companies that produce all the trash in the first place.
And the more money rich beverage executives have to spend on blow.
Operation Feed America Our Industrial Waste
Formed in 1996, Dairy Management Inc. promotes dairy product consumption on behalf of America's hard-working dairy farmers. They're the people behind this logo, for instance:
Its many Internet incarnations describe Dairy Management's achievements in fighting childhood obesity, reducing the carbon emissions of dairy farms and supporting the American economy. They also talk a lot about cheese. They really, really like cheese.
In 2009, Dairy Management worked with Domino's Pizza on its now-famous "new menu," otherwise known as "our pizzas no longer taste so much like ketchup-splattered drywall" campaign. Not surprisingly for a bunch of guys who like dairy farmers, this involved adding a lot of cheese to Domino's pizzas. Forty percent more cheese. So much cheese, in fact, that you can now go over your recommended daily saturated fat level by eating two slices of some of Domino's pies.
"Who wants to live past 40, anyway?"
To get the cheese message out there, Dairy Management also paid for Domino's recent $12 million marketing campaign. This wasn't particularly unusual: Dairy Management has also worked with other restaurant chains, such as Pizza Hut, Burger King and Taco Bell, to massively increase the amount of cheese in certain dishes.
Wait, something's not right here ...
If you've come this far in this article, you're probably wondering by now which huge, faceless corporation is behind this. CheeseCorp International? Cow Sellers of America?
The Society for the Advancement of Udders?
No. It's you.
If you're an American, that is. It's the United States Department of Agriculture. Granted, the majority of Dairy Management's funding now comes from fees imposed on American dairy farmers, but last year the USDA added funding to the tune of $5 million. This is despite the fact that other people in the USDA are also using your tax money to continually promote a diet low in saturated fats.
So why the intense government-sponsored focus on cheese, rather than milk or other cow products? Well, over the years Americans have increasingly come to prefer low-fat milk, and dairy farmers have been left with a huge excess of extracted milk fat that they've skimmed off it all. We're talking millions of pounds here. All this fat, and nothing to do with it. So why not make it into cheese, and then spend a lot of money encouraging Americans to eat it?
So, enjoy your Domino's tonight, guys. You paid for it. Twice.
And stop by Linkstorm to learn how much cheese you can add to your Domino's pizza.
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