Okay, now for something completely different...I'm not suggesting action related to this, but it's something that's brewing inside of me.
Yesterday, the National Parks Conservation Association, a non-profit advocacy group in bed with the National Park Service, released a report on the economic value of the national parks. I decided, since I had a little time at work, to read the report. I haven't done so yet, but I was immediately struck by the company commissioned to do the report, a company called Hardner & Gullison Associates, LLC. The company describes itself in the following way:
Hardner & Gullison Associates, LLC is a private consulting firm that provides technical assistance in the field of conservation to foundations, conservation groups, governments, and corporations. Its work includes economic analysis, conservation finance, program evaluation, project design and implementation, and corporate environmental management. Members of the firm include among their past and present clients the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, U.S. Agency for International Development, The Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International, National Parks Conservation Association, Environmental Defense, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, BP, Shell Oil Company, Compañía Minera Antamina, among others. For more information, please visit www.hg-llc.com.
Now, does that sound fishy? It does to me, and a look at their Web site shows that the company basically writes environmental/economic analyses for this supposedly diverse group of organizations. I find a lot of things about this that stink, namely the bedfellows, and how this company is used in order to help environmental groups with their propaganda (making capitalist economic arguments to help against business) as well as helping giant evil corporations and the World Bank make their arguments (voodoo environmental/economic impact statements). See some of their projects for instance at http://www.hg-llc.com/performance-evaluation.html ).
Who do these people think they are? It turns out they have a small staff based in New Hampshire. I don't care so much about them, though, but rather the manner in which capitalists and NGOs all need each other desperately for survival. It bothers me that there are companies like this that can profit in the niche that supposedly exists between them. In effect, they use science and economics to serve PR purposes, which is why I find myself about to read the NPCA report on the economic value of national parks (something I already found to be a rather distasteful way of framing value).
I doubt there's anything to be done about this in the short term, but I think it's helpful again to see that "the enemy" isn't always so obvious; any institution of any size should be regarded with outright suspicion (no matter who they seem to be), and I think that we perhaps should keep that always in mind when we seek friends.
Thanks for letting me vent. I found this interesting.