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Norman Dodd on the Power and Influence of Tax Exempt Foundations in America

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In 1953, a congressional committee, the Reece Committee, conducted an investigation into tax exempt foundations, primarily Ford, Rockefeller, and Carnegie, to determine if they were using their financial resources for any purposes other than those for which the foundations were established. Norman Dodd, the lead investigator, submitted the committee’s findings in the Dodd Report, which stated that during the period of 1933-1936, a revolutionary change took place which “could not have occurred peacefully, or with the consent of the majority, unless education in the United States had been prepared in advance to endorse it,” primarily because this “revolution” opposed American traditions and values and promoted internationalism, collectivism, and moral relativism. According to the Dodd Report, this was achieved specifically by;

"Directing education in the United States toward an international viewpoint and discrediting the traditions to which it [formerly) had been dedicated."

"Decreasing the dependency of education upon the resources of the local community and freeing it from many of the natural safeguards inherent in this American tradition."

"Changing both school and college curricula to the point where they sometimes denied the principles underlying the American way of life."

Over the next several years, Rene A. Wormser, who had been general counsel to the Reece Committee, wrote a book, Foundations: Their Power and Influence (1958). In the book, Wormser wrote of an emerging elite with vast financial resources and unchecked, unaccountable power "concentrated increasingly in the hands of an interlocking and self-perpetuating group.” Wormser further writes in the book;

"It is difficult for the public to understand that some of the great foundations which have done so much for us in some fields have acted tragically against the public interest in others, but the facts are there for the unprejudiced to recognize."

"The power of the individual foundation giant is enormous. When there is like-mindedness among a group of these giants, which apparently is due to the existence of a closely knit group of professional administrators in the social science field, the power is magnified hugely. When such foundations do good, they justify the tax-exempt status which the people grant them. When they do harm, it can be immense harm - there is virtually no counter-force to oppose them."

Did the industrialists tell the people about their plans? Hardly, and many fiercely opposed the idea of having their children forcibly taken away from them to be educated by someone else, understandably so. By the time the Reece Committee conducted their investigation in 1953, the issue of subversive activities of tax exempt foundations had become a hot topic, but it had also been heavily politicized, helping to garner just as much support for the foundations as there was opposition, which, essentially diffused and neutralized inquiry, as politicization usually does. Ultimately, the committee failed to bring charges. Shorty before his death, Norman Dodd described, in this interview, his experience as lead investigator of the committee and its sabotage, which included the usual defamatory political stunts.