- Imagine this: A cabal of powerful business
owners is after America's children. They want to train them to be mindless
employees in their massive corporations. The power brokers have recruited
influential politicians to turn the public school system into nothing more
than a training ground for future employees. The politicians also want
to break up families that aren't willing to toe the corporate line.
- It sounds like an episode of the "X-Files"
or the plot of a cheap science fiction paperback, but this is not fiction.
It's already happened in Oregon. The outlandish-sounding scheme culminated
on December 5, 1994. That's when a document called "The Oregon Option"
was signed by the entire Clinton Cabinet, all members of the Oregon Congressional
delegation, outgoing Oregon Governor Barbara Roberts, incoming Oregon Governor
John Kitzhaber, Portland Mayor Vera Katz, Multnomah County Commission Chair
Beverly Stein, Gresham Mayor Gussie McRobert, and others.
- At the time of the signing, Vice President
Al Gore said "The Oregon Option" would turn the state into a
"laboratory." The agreement describes the research field as "childhood
health, family stability and workforce development."
- To the casual observer, this language
may sound like just so much meaningless nonsense---the kind of feel-good
rhetoric found in so many governmental documents that are merely collecting
dust on the shelf these days. But, in the case of "The Oregon Option,"
nothing could be further from the truth. This plan actually combines a
series of obscure but significant plans created by some of the region's---indeed,
the nation's---most powerful politicians and business executives. They
are a group which has interacted with one another for years, usually outside
the glare of public scrutiny.
- These are not the sort of people who
spend their time working on meaningless projects. Through the arrangements
now combined in "The Oregon Option," these power brokers have
readjusted the very structure of 20th Century American society around their
own needs. What is being created by The Oregon Option is nothing less than
a government run entirely for the benefit of its largest banks, utilities
and other major corporations. The aim is the creation of generations of
completely docile, corporate trained citizens. It will accomplish this
through a life time of government intervention and manipulation in the
education and rearing of all children.
- Under the programs encompassed in "The
Oregon Option," the government will set up databases on every child
conceived. It will use home visits to evaluate the parents to see if they
fit the corporate standards. It will have the ability to monitor and break
apart families. Parents will go through parenting classes which will fill
them with corporate sanctioned psycho-babble and rhetoric. Failure to abide
by the conditions of this program will be called "developmental neglect"---grounds
for the government to remove the child from the family.
- Children will be subjected to an education
system which will emphasize their mediocrity. At school, in a manner frighteningly
reminiscent of Nazi Germany's Hitler Youth, they will be encouraged to
report all suspicious behavior of friends, neighbors, siblings, or classmates
to a properly sanctioned authority of the corporate state. In the end,
Oregonians will be no more than cogs in the corporate machine.
- "The Oregon Option" is the
result of more than a decade of careful planning by some of the wealthiest
and most powerful individuals in not only Oregon, but the entire nation.
Based on work begun under the administrations of former Oregon governors
Mark Hatfield and Neil Goldschmidt, it has been pushed by some of the state's
best known political figures, including former Portland Mayor and Oregon
Governor Neil Goldschmidt. At the core of "The Oregon Option"
is "The Oregon Strategic Plan," a landmark document drafted and
implemented under the direction of former Governor Goldschmidt.
- Written in 1988, "The Oregon Strategic
Plan" is perhaps the ultimate example of "trickle-down economics."
It restructures the entire needs of everyone in the state around those
of its largest corporations. Under the plan, large corporations get tax
breaks called "reverse investment." Workers compensation settlements
are seen as a disadvantage to attracting large businesses and thus reduced.
The education system is restructured to guarantee an adequate work-force
for these corporations---though no provisions are made to guarantee jobs
for all residents. The per capita income of Oregon residents is raised
not by raising the earned income of current residents, but by importing
"skilled professionals" who will gentrify Oregon and force the
current residents out.
- Looked upon by Willamette Week and the
rest of the official alternative press as the consummate "visionary"
leader, Goldschmidt is, according to "American Politics," a member
of the Trilateral Commission---a group of the powerful business and political
leaders that grew out of efforts by the world's wealthiest families (the
Morgans, the Rockefellers, the Carnegies, etc.) to extend the power of
their mega-monopolies (U.S. Steel, General Motors, Standard Oil, Chase
Bank, etc.). They formed think tanks to redesign public policies to their
own benefit, then convinced elected officials to adopt these self-serving
- That's the pattern Goldschmidt followed
in preparing "The Oregon Strategic Plan." It was drafted by an
ad hoc think tank comprised of representatives of the state's dominant
economic interests, including Portland General Electric (PGE), Pacific
Power and Light (PP&L), Northwest Natural Gas, First Interstate Bank,
Weyerhaueser, and a few other members of the Portland Metropolitan Chamber
of Commerce and the Oregon Business Council. Goldschmidt had received substantial
campaign contributions from this same group of corporations, and was later
retained as a highly-paid lobbyist by many of them. This is typical of
today's revolving door between business and government. Overseeing the
policy's development was Richard Reiten, then director of the Oregon Economic
Development Department (OEDD).
- After he left OEDD, Reiten was named
president of PGE. Significantly, one of Reiten's last acts in his role
as OEDD Chair was to move all Oregon state government offices dealing with
international affairs into the World Trade Center, a downtown Portland
building owned by PGE. The actual drafting of the plan was done by Duncan
Wyse, then a policy manager with the Oregon Office of Economic Development.
Wyse then became the director of the Oregon Progress Board, a body created
by "The Oregon Strategic Plan" to monitor its implementation.
- In 1995, Wyse left state government to
become president of the Oregon Business Council (OBC), an influential private
organization made up of the largest businesses in the state. The group
which directed the development of "The Oregon Strategic Plan"
included such heavy hitters as John Gray and Don Frisbee, two well-established
Portland businessmen who have served on the boards of a half dozen major
corporations, including Weyerhaueser and First Interstate Bank. They also
served on Governor John Kitzhaber's Transition Team, and are currently
members of the Oregon Progress Board.
- Whenever a group of people meets among
themselves, the decisions they come up with will only reflect the needs
of those who had a voice in the process. So it's not surprising that "The
Oregon Strategic Plan" meets the needs of large corporate interests,
not the general population of the state. For example, the plan sees protections
such as workers compensation and unemployment benefits as impediments to
"competitiveness." Strategies are designed to eliminate them.
- Similarly, talk of raising per capita
incomes is not centered around improving the shrinking earning capacity
of people already in Oregon---it is centered on bringing people into the
state with higher incomes. Obviously, this will not fill the needs of those
in Oregon who no longer have jobs. It will, however, provide a steady client/
consumer base for those branches of business and government who drafted
the plan. These few examples portray the central premise of "The Oregon
Strategic Plan"---readjusting the lives of all Oregonians to the needs
of the state's largest businesses.
- IF YOU LIKE SCHOOL, YOU'LL LOVE WORK
- Readjusting the lives of Oregonians around
corporations is not an easy task. It requires allowing the corporation's
direct access to coming generations. This was accomplished in 1991 when
the Oregon Legislature passed HB 3565---the "Oregon 21st Century Education
Act," sponsored by then-Oregon House Speaker Vera Katz. Now Mayor
of Portland, Katz admits that this law has origins in research which began
a decade earlier. The research Katz is referring to is not that of a local
Oregon government body---it is the work of a highly influential private
group called the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE).
- To call this group "influential"
is understatement. Its membership in recent years has included members
of the cabinets of the last seven U.S. Presidents. It's also included
the chairs of the Democratic and Republican political parties. Representatives
from the business community have included high ranking executives from
such massive firms as IBM and Apple, Chevron and Exxon, and Coke and Pepsi.
Despite the nominal hostility of some of these parings, through the NCEE
they became united as one in their redesign of the U.S. education system.
- In the center of this conglomeration
of corporate and political power is David Rockefeller, the wealthiest member
of one of the world's wealthiest and most powerful families. Rockefeller's
family network had executive officers, or owned controlling interest, in
most of the non-profit foundations and private corporations represented
at the NCEE. In David Rockefeller, we find the personification of the wealthy
elite capable of redesigning the policies of government for their own benefit.
His mere presence on this board meant that its findings would be taken
- Less ominous at the time than Rockefeller's
presence on these panels were those of relatively obscure regional politicians
and advisors who would later rise to greater prominence. These included
the wife of the governor of the second poorest state in the union, Hillary
Rodham Clinton, and the Speaker of the House of the backwaters state of
Oregon, Vera Katz. In 1994 Katz would become the only elected official
to be appointed to President Bill Clinton's National Skills Standards Board---a
body which oversaw the development of Clinton's national plan for Outcome
Based Education, Goals 2000.
- A number of people who are currently
among Clinton's closest advisors were also involved in the process. One
was Ira Magaziner, chair of the NCEE's Commission on the Skills of the
American Workforce, and a private consultant on international corporate
strategies for business and government. Another was Marc Tucker, president
of the NCEE and executive director of the Carnegie Forum on education and
the Economy. Also involved was Laura Tyson, a member of the Council on
Foreign Relations and a consultant to the World Bank and the Rand Corporation.
The recommendations of the NCEE were formally endorsed by the National
Governors' Association at its annual 1986 convention. Five governors began
implementing these recommendations in their states. They include Lamar
Alexander, the then-Governor of Tennessee (Al Gore's home state) who became
Secretary of Education under President George Bush, and who is now a candidate
for the U.S. Presidency; Richard Riley, the then-Governor of South Carolina,
who became Secretary of Education under President Bill Clinton; and Bill
Clinton, the then-Governor of Arkansas. These states, all with small populations,
all with poor economies, were to serve as trials for this policy before
it was to be implemented nationally.
- A similar indicator of the importance
of this law to the power brokers is visible here in Oregon. The Katz aide
most involved in the passage of her education act was Phil Keisling. Following
his work on the education act, Keisling was elected to the Oregon House,
appointed to the office of Secretary of State by former Governor Barbara
Roberts, and then re-elected to that office. The mainstream and official
alternative news media repeatedly touts Keisling as a future Oregon Governor
and/or U.S. Senator.
- The fundamentals of Outcome Based Education
are based on the notion of creating a generation of ideal workers. Education,
according to the rhetoric of OBE proponents, exists simply to help people
find jobs. Consequently, the OBE curriculum is designed to direct students
into specific career tracks at a very young age. This is known as "tracking."
Because of the involvement of the the largest corporations in the writing
of this plan, they are the ones who, often at taxpayer expense, design
the parameters of what the career tracks entail. The end result is a system
which supplies select corporations with their choice of workers, but makes
no guarantees that even a majority of the students will ever.find employment.
- One of the strongest illustrations of
this complete domination of the education system by the most powerful corporations
is the "model program" at Portland's own David Douglas High School.
The David Douglas program claims to set up practical internships where
students will receive actual knowledge in their chosen field. The program
was designed in what is referred to with a straight face as a "partnership"
with the Oregon Business Council---administered by the former administrator
for the Oregon Progress Board, Duncan Wyse. While the categories of internships
sound utopian, the program's bias is illustrated by where they actually
take place. Young aspiring artists are not paired with dancers, painters
or composers, but with local utility giant PP&L.
- Students interested in social services
are not paired with social scientists or social agencies, but with PGE.
Those wishing to work with nature are not paired with botanists, zoologists,
or naturalists, but with the Bonneville Power Administration. Those interested
in health sciences are not connected with doctors, nurses or even orderlies,
but with insurance giants Kaiser and Providence, where they are taught
the finer points of paper pushing. Those interested in business are not
shown examples of smaller companies that they may themselves start up,
but are instead paired with Fred Meyer, preparing them to be low paid service
- These grotesque examples of runaway corporate
domination give a flavor of the real work emphasized in Outcome Based Education.
There is also, in OBE, in place of academics, an emphasis on "group
dynamics." Students are taught to work as a group, and to value the
group's opinion, often above their own. This has led to Orwellian consequences.
One parent told of a child who would not put down the correct answer to
a simple math problem because it contradicted what their group had decided.
A child who is taught with this dual emphasis---learning what the corporations
tell them to learn and not questioning their peer group---is the ideal
corporate drone. This child will, as he or she reaches adulthood, have
neither the drive to question their working conditions, or the ambition
to start a competitive business.
- Since this is something few informed
parents would accept, Katz's education act set up a method of enforcement.
Specifically, failure to achieve satisfactory progress in these corporate
dominated academics is defined as a form of abuse. This gives the government
grounds to intervene in the lives of any family which isn't going along
with the program. Social services thus become the tool of corporate-dominated
government to ensure that this new curriculum would be followed. While
little is specifically written about the role of social services in Katz's
bill, it was the subject of a package of laws passed by the 1991 Oregon
Legislature. Its principle supporters included state representatives John
Meek and Lisa Naito, and, to a greater extent, state senators Shirley Gold,
Bill McCoy, and, perhaps most prominently, future Multnomah County Commission
Chair Beverly Stein.
- So complete are these controls that State
Senator Tom Hartung (R-Portland) even joked about them. Hartung chaired
the Senate Education Committee during the 1995 Oregon Legislature. This
committee reviewed and slightly revised the "Oregon 21st Century Education
Act." During one hearing, Hartung responded to public protests against
the heavy-handed provisions of the act by quipping, "We got rid off
all the behavior modification. We just put it somewhere else."
- FAMILIES: FUTURE FODDER FOR AMERICAN
- Under Katz's education plan, if a child
were not meeting the new academic standards, there could be evaluations
to determine if it is "in the child's best interest" to separate
them from their parents. While there might be a faintly altruistic sound
to this pretense of "helping" kids from "troubled homes"
in school, when these sort of rigid standards of academic success are combined
with the corporate-based academics, more rights are given to corporations
such as PP&L and PGE than to the actual parents in the raising of the
- Among the many laws which Gold, McCoy
and Stein introduced into the 1991 Oregon Legislature are these, which
the Oregon Progress Board cites as the most important to its mission: SB
701, which creates a "human investment board" to fund demonstration
projects; SB 1099, which encourages municipalities to become "demonstration"
sites for these projects (The law further calls for these municipalities
to have access to a "continuum" of social services---that is,
an interlocking web of social service interventions from cradle to grave);
and HB 2954, which creates the "Oregon Coordinating Council for Children
and Families, the group which will orient Oregon's education and social
services around the goals of the Oregon Progress Board---the direct tie
to The Oregon Option.
- After former Multnomah County Chair Gladys
McCoy (Senator McCoy's wife) died in office, Stein was elected to replace
her by virtue of a heavily financed campaign. Once in office, Stein set
up Multnomah County as one of the demonstration sites she had created under
SB 701 and SB 1099 while in the Oregon Legislature. She accomplished this
through the creation of the Multnomah Commission on Children and Families.
Stein's closeness with the work of this commission is symbolized by the
fact that she shares a front office and receptionist with them. The powers
given to this commission, illustrated in their "benchmarks"---the
goals for future progress---are a frightening addition to the sanctions
under Outcome Based Education.
- Among other things, the benchmarks greatly
expand the role of government in the family. They call for routine visits
by government employees to pregnant women (called "home visits"),
accompanied by universal drug screening for all expectant and new mothers.
Criteria by which a mother may be evaluated as either "incapable"
or "at risk" include not having enough income. Conversely, if
she is working to provide that income, she may be found "at risk"
for not being able to give the child enough time.
- In addition, the benchmarks call for
many---if not most---new parents to be enrolled in training classes where
they will be force fed the latest psycho-babble on the proper way to raise
their children. Failure of parents to implement the techniques they learn
on their children is defined as "developmental neglect"---another
criteria by which children may be separated from their parent. Children
who make it through these hurdles and get to school intact will be brought
into regular contact with adults who will screen them for "abuse."
These adults will look for every possible type of abuse under a loose assortment
of terms including "drugs," "gangs," "sex abuse,"
and "neglect." In fact, these terms are so loosely defined that
the term "other" repeatedly appears as an official category for
the detection of abuse.
- What makes each of these seemingly well
intentioned proposals even more dangerous is that each of these "caring
adults" who interact with the families will be competing for limited
funds. This will in effect transform the social service workers, law enforcement
personnel, psychologists, and others into the equivalent of salespeople
operating on commission. Each of these "professionals" will be
in the dubious position of having to find a certain quantity of "abuse"
to justify their next funding cycle. This means that that they will be
encouraged to find "abuse," even where none exists.
- Several recent high-profile legal cases
involving allegations of "ritual abuse" show how dangerous this
could become. In these cases, parents were arrested and prosecuted after
their children told wild tales of molestation, frequently involving large
numbers of adults in such unlikely settings as churches and day care centers.
Most of the convictions obtained at these trials have been reversed after
it was determined that counsellors and others persuaded the children---inadvertently
or not---to lie about their experiences. The Multnomah Commission on Children
and Families has called for the creation of what it calls "therapeutic
nurseries." Though the law gives little definition to this term, reports
in the Oregonian paint a rosy picture of centers underwritten by corporations
such as PGE and PacifiCorp, where "neglected" and "parentless"
children will be given "caring" environments through corporate
"generosity." If the idea of kids getting raised by corporations
sounds far fetched, consider that Stein's proposal refers to such corporations
as "partners" in the rearing of children.
- Looking for an opportunity to be an entrepreneur?
Here's a safe bet: If these trends continue, corporate run childhood foster
homes---referred to as "therapeutic nurseries" in Stein's proposal---may
soon rival, or even replace, prisons as Oregon's largest growth industry.
- Combining the benchmarks of Stein's commission
with the direction of Katz's education act and the goals of the Oregon
Strategic Plan leads to an even more ominous conclusion. As children are
further removed from their families, the emphasis on school related activities
will come to fill more of their inherent social needs. Corporate directed
peer activities will inevitably form the basis of the child's emotional
life---which is the thrust of the Oregon Option.
- But don't take my word for it. Get a
copy of "The Oregon Option" and read it yourself. "The Oregon
Option" and other documents of interest, including "The Oregon
Strategic Plan" and "Oregon Benchmarks," are available by
writing the Oregon Progress Board at 775 Summer Street, Salem OR 97310.
You can also get a copy of the Oregon Business Council's study of Outcome
Based Education by writing to the Council at 1100 SW 6th Avenue, Suite
1608, Portland OR 97204. Publications from the National Center on Education
and the Economy may be obtained by writing that organization at 39 State
Street, Suite 500, Rochester NY 14614.
- Recommended reports include "America's
Choice: High Skills or Low Wages" and "A Human Resources Plan
for the United States." And you CAN get a copy of the entire "benchmarks"
of the Multnomah County Commission on Children and Families by writing
the Commission at 1120 SW 5th Avenue, Portland OR 97204.
- ROCKEFELLER HISTORY AND INVOLVEMENT
- The Rockefellers are one of the wealthiest,
most powerful families in the country. John Rockefeller Sr. founded Standard
Oil, one of the largest companies in the world. The Rockefeller family
has long had an interest in education, beginning with the creation of the
General Education Board in 1903 (which eventually became the Rockefeller
- The Rockefellers initially focused their
education efforts on the more economically depressed areas of the country,
beginning with the South where so many African-Americans lived in poverty.
While the essence of this seems commendable, there were ulterior motives.
John Rockefeller Sr. and others could place their business holdings in
this non-profit organization, evading millions of dollars in taxes while
retaining control of their corporations. At the same time, the Rockefeller
Foundation has served as a stepping stone to the U.S. Secretary of State's
office. Three of the Foundation's presidents---John Foster Dulles, Dean
Rusk, and Henry Kissinger---later served as Secretary of State.
- David Rockefeller, one of two surviving
grandchildren of John Rockefeller Sr., was influential in starting the
National Center for Education and the Economy. At that time, he was also
chair of two of the world's most influential think tanks---the Council
on Foreign Relations (founded in 1918) and the Trilateral Commission (founded
in 1973). Comprised of the most wealthy and powerful members of society,
both of these groups meet secretly, pursue elaborate policy studies, come
to a consensus, and then try to implement that consensus into actual public
- The United Nations, the International
Monetary Fund, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency,
the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and the U.S. government's policy
in Viet Nam all had their genesis in one or both of these organizations.
And, more often than not, the members of the Council on Foreign Relations
have served in critical positions in every Presidential administration.
- Paul Richmond is a longtime local writer,
television producer, and activist. Since arriving in Portland more than
five years ago, Richmond has worked to clarify the law allowing citizens
to videotape police, caused two visiting U.S. Attorney Generals to lose
their cool during press conferences, and consistently reminded the Mayor
of the existence of the City Charter. He has produced more than 10,000
hours of local cable access programming, including the series "Abuse
of Power," which airs live most Mondays at 8 pm on Channel 11, and
"Fire in a Crowded Theater," which airs most Tuesdays at 4 pm
on Channel 11. Richmond has written for the Portland Free Press, the Oregon
Observer, and PDXS newspapers, and he is currently an editor and reporter
for the Portlandian, copies of which may be obtained by calling (503) 321-5034
or writing P.O. Box 454, Portland OR 97207. Please include at least 55
cents for postage.