by Alex Newman
Under the guise of keeping America “competitive” in the looming high-tech future, the globalist Council on Foreign Relations is urging policymakers at all levels to dramatically expand the size and scope of government. The bloated welfare states in Sweden and Denmark are cited as examples of the “advantages” of massive government programs to take care for people. Without the sort of fundamental transformation of America envisioned by the CFR, the nation will supposedly be left behind in the emerging new paradigm, the organization claimed. Critics, though, blasted that idea.
In its new report, dubbed “The Work Ahead: Machines, Skills, and U.S. Leadership in the Twenty-First Century,” the CFR Task Force offered a broad array of policy recommendations for federal, state, and local officials. These range from ever more immigration and a greater role for government in various facets of the economy, to a dramatic expansion of the welfare state modeled on Big Government schemes from Northern Europe. The CFR’s demands regarding education, which are a key component of the report, will be covered in an upcoming article.
Some of the leaders involved in creating the CFR report told The New American that without implementing the sought-after changes, America would be left behind as the world moves toward a globalized future of fast-moving technological progress. But experts and legislators invited to participate in the scheme who spoke to The New American sounded the alarm about the CFR’s vision. Among other concerns, they warned that the controversial CFR report and outreach efforts selling it to policymakers reveal a hidden plan to push a dangerous agenda and bring state and local officials into the establishment’s globalist orbit.
One reason why the CFR’s pronouncements are so important is because of the key role they play setting policy. Indeed, looking at its membership and influence, many analysts consider the CFR to be a key Deep State hub in America. The late U.S. Admiral Chester Ward, a CFR member for almost 20 years before defecting and blowing the whistle, explained that this enormous power is used for neferious purposes. In fact, Ward said, the main objective of the organization is to undermine U.S. sovereignty and facilitate the merger of the United States into what he described as an “all-powerful one-world government.”
The way it advances its objectives was explained by Admiral Ward, too. “Once the ruling members of CFR have decided that the U.S. Government should adopt a particular policy, the very substantial research facilities of CFR are put to work to develop arguments, intellectual and emotional, to support the new policy, and to confound and discredit, intellectually and politically, any opposition,” he said. “The most articulate theoreticians and ideologists prepare related articles, aided by the research, to sell the new policy and to make it appear inevitable and irresistible.”
“By following the evolution of this propaganda in the most prestigious scholarly journal in the world, [CFR mouthpiece] Foreign Affairs, anyone can determine years in advance what the future defense and foreign policies of the United States will be,” the respected admiral warned after ditching his membership at the CFR. “If a certain proposition is repeated often enough in that journal, then the U.S. Administration in power — be it Republican or Democratic — begins to act as if that proposition or assumption were an established fact.”
While that may not be true in the Trump era, when voters and their president have openly rejected globalism, it certainly has been true for decades, if not generations, regardless of the party formally in power. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted publicly that the CFR told her what she should be doing and how she should be thinking about the future. Former Vice President Joe Biden, meanwhile, joked that he worked for CFR boss Richard Haass. Even many top “Republicans” are involved.
Of course, the latest CFR agenda starts with a kernel of truth. As anybody with common sense can see, the economy is changing and will be undergoing further changes in the years ahead. As a result of technological developments, the future of work will look very different in 30 or 40 years than it does today. Many Americans will lose their jobs. All that is true. Of course, it would be difficult to sell enormous policy changes if the entire premise behind them was nothing but fiction, obviously.
But the agenda being pushed is another matter. Under the pretext of responding to the obvious changes coming in the years ahead, the CFR — a leading Deep State institution in America that has dominated foreign policy for generations — is pushing what critics warned was a dangerous scheme to expand the power of government. The plan also advances globalism at every level of society, a key goal of the CFR dating back to its founding. In short, it is a massive and dangerous power grab that should be resisted, critics told The New American.
Globalist notions of “free trade” and mass migration are at the heart of the agenda. “Openness to trade and immigration are vital for maintaining U.S. technological leadership,” the CFR report says. Indeed, there are over 60 references to “trade” and more than 60 mentions of immigration, especially the alleged need to expand the already-massive immigration numbers coming to America.
As readers of this magazine know well, though, when the CFR advocates “trade,” it is generally referring not to genuine free trade, but to sovereignty-shredding “free trade” agreements that strip nations and peoples of the right to govern themselves. Mass migration, meanwhile, also helps smash national identities, culture, and eventually, the nation-state itself, as Europe is learning the hard way right now.
On the government’s role in the economy and the welfare state, the CFR report also seeks major changes. “U.S. efforts to help displaced workers are inadequate,” the report says, ignoring the U.S. Constitution’s limits on federal power and insinuating that it is the federal government’s role to train and help workers. “Unemployment insurance is too rigid and covers too few workers, and retraining programs are not based on the best global models,” the report continued, without giving many details on what these “global models” demand of America.
The report also includes seven specific recommendations for policymakers at all levels. These mostly revolve around the supposed need for much larger and more intrusive government across the board. Among other recommendations, the CFR claims:
• Government should be involved in “creating better jobs and career paths for Americans,” as if the real problem facing America was a lack of central planning, government-created “jobs,” and government-directed careers.
• Another recommendation calls for more immigration, including “highly skilled” migrants who would help drive down wages for America’s embattled middle class even as the CFR warns that countless people will lose jobs due to automation.
• Also supposedly needed is more government funding for “research,” as if the state, rather than the private sector, knows better what ought to be researched and what projects would be worthwhile to fund.
• Putting college and university “education” within “reach” of all Americans is important, too, the report said, implicitly advocating even more tax funding for bloated “educational” institutions that are churning out ignorant socialists with worthless “degrees” literally by the millions.
• America should also adopt the “best features” of what the CFR report describes as the European “flexicurity” models. As examples of the supposed “advantages” of these models, the Task Force pointed to the bloated welfare states of Sweden and Denmark, where tax rates (including VAT, income taxes, energy taxes, and more) can consume three-fourths of individuals’ earnings, and where individual freedom is severely limited.
• Finally, the report calls for the U.S. government to “create portable systems of employment benefits tied to individual employees rather than to jobs themselves.” This government-created system should be “universal,” as the report puts it — or in other words, mandatory for everyone.
There are many other recommendations woven throughout the 162-page report. Some make sense, such as scaling back the enormous growth in state licensing schemes that inhibit consumer choice and do nothing to protect the health and safety of consumers. But the overwhelming majority call for larger and more intrusive government: Creating a “National Commission on the U.S. Workforce,” offering more tax-funded subsidies for “affordable” housing, spending more money on government-controlled “public transportation” systems, and more.
As part of the initiative, CFR Vice President for National Programs and Outreach Irina Faskianos organized a conference call for state and local officials to promote the policy recommendations. On that call, CFR term member Chike Aguh, a member of the CFR Task Force behind the report and a former teacher who now works at the McChrystal Group, condensed the subject matter into four “buckets,” as he described it. Phrased as questions, he put it this way: “What is the work of the future? How do we make sure that we have the workers who have the skills to do that work? How do we make sure that those workers can find that work, and vice-versa? And lastly, how do we make sure that there’s a safety net to support them the entire way?”
Among other topics, Aguh argued that new systems were needed to help people who need work to find work that needs to be done. Using an example of a casino that could not find enough workers, he claimed there was “a lack of matching between people who could do the work and the work that needed to be done.” “And the question is,” he continued, “how do we solve that?” In a free-market system, those problems generally work themselves out. If there are not enough workers to fill job openings, then the employers may need to pay higher wages, or offer more benefits, or advertise better. But in the CFR’s view, it seems more bureaucracy and government programs are the answer.
Another topic on the call was establishing a “social safety net” that will “support the worker through this whole process.” According to Aguh, the existing welfare state is not enough. Complaining that the current regime was established in the 1950s and has not changed much since then, Aguh argued that the government should play a much more active role in providing economic “security” for people. For instance, he said some people might stay in their job simply because of the benefits it provides, whereas if the government created programs for health and welfare, that worker could move to another job more easily.
In a phone interview with The New American, Aguh noted that there were major changes when the economy went from primarily an agricultural system to a more industrial system. “As we look at this new economy, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we argue that we need a change,” he explained, adding that the system would have to change to keep pace with the changes happening in the economy such as automation, job losses, and so on. But in the end, there is “no silver bullet,” he said. “There’s a myriad of things that have to happen.”
Separately, CFR Task Force Project Director Ted Alden acknowledged to The New American in a phone interview that the report seeks to tackle an enormous range of issues. “The danger of this is that it becomes a report about everything,” he said, chuckling. Then he provided an overview of some of the many areas where the CFR group believes policymakers should make changes.
Asked about “global models” for unemployment insurance, Alden said there were two big pieces. One is to make the system more “effective.” “Europeans do better than we do here; Denmark and Sweden do this better than we do,” he said. “That doesn’t mean we necessarily need to follow them — they have different systems — but they do a lot right. For example, their unemployment systems. The U.S. is an enormous laggard in re-training and in spending.”
In America, the unemployment system was designed for cyclical downturns as people were laid off in bad times. “We argue for a move toward more of an affordable benefits program, recognizing the emergence of the gig economy,” he said, citing issues such as California’s recent scheme to force Uber and other similar companies to treat all their drivers as actual employees. “We have to have a social-benefit system that makes this kind of model work.”
While saying that did not necessarily mean a government takeover of health insurance, retirement, and other benefits people often obtain from their jobs, Alden and the Task Force report made clear that the federal government has a significant role to play. “What we’re talking about is allowing people to move more easily between jobs and retain benefits,” said Alden, who described his role as “working to try to fashion a consensus from the smart and visionary people” involved in the Task Force. “We need greater flexibility. The gap in economic security between full-time workers and part-time workers is enormous.” The Task Force did not get down to the “very granular level,” but there are many different models worth looking at, he said.
On immigration, Alden said he did not want to speak for the group on how to design an immigration system. “What I can say with confidence about the position of the group is we were trying to deal with a conundrum,” he said. “How does U.S. remain most competitive and innovative economy in the world? Our prosperity depends on us maintaining a technological lead. We don’t want to see government throwing wrenches that slow down technological progress. But if you look at evidence on high-skilled immigration to U.S., it’s a tremendous benefit to the U.S. economy and innovation.”
When pressed about the views of critics, Alden said the “notion of immigrants as competition for American workers” was actually “short sighted.” But of course, it is an established fact that an increased supply of labor will have the immediate effect of driving down wages, compounding the looming job losses and relocation that purport to justify the entire CFR Task Force’s agenda.
In the end, Alden portrayed the CFR’s efforts as a benevolent plan to help America succeed in a complex and globalized world. “Americans feel very uncertain right now,” he said. “They don’t know their place. If we don’t help Americans succeed, the future of the country is going to be very much in question. The U.S. is pulling back in global leadership, but we believe U.S. leadership has been an important force in the world. So there is a very important duality: How do we remain competitive and innovate, while making sure the benefits spread out to all of America, so they can embrace the future rather than be scared of it?”
Lawmakers who spoke with The New American, though, had a different take on it all. Senator Regina Bayer, an Idaho Republican who was invited to join the CFR’s conference call for state officials, warned of a nefarious agenda hidden just below the surface. “My take on this conference call and task force is the CFR is attempting to establish a new, direct form of communication; new ways to disseminate information,” she explained. “They need to establish themselves as dedicated and honorable so that their information will be accepted as good and truthful.”
Part of the agenda, Senator Bayer continued, was to establish a sort of “open door” communication between the CFR and state and local officials, as the “federal and international approaches are not as successful as they would like to see.” She cited the implementation of the totalitarian United Nations Agenda 2030 as an example. “It is working better now as it is being implemented at the local and state levels rather than just a power push from the top,” she explained. Part of the strategy seems to be to “wow” state and local politicians into feeling important because a well-known organization like the CFR is interested in connecting with them. Interestingly, before Trump’s election, a CFR member was calling for abolishing U.S. state governments entirely.
But the underlying goals are clear. “Both the conference call and the Independent Task Force report are full of global-government ideologies,” she explained. “Most of it reads like Keynesian mumble-jumble. The true remedy would be a return to Austrian economics.” Keynesian economists typically believe government ought to intervene in the economy to deal with all manner of real and imagined “market failures.” Austrian-school economists, by contrast, generally believe the free market without unnecessary government intervention is the best system in terms of creating and distributing wealth.
“There seems to be the same old pitch that government can solve all problems from higher wages to lower home prices,” continued Senator Bayer, warning that government cannot do better than markets and freedom at solving problems. Plus, the CFR’s internationalist agenda is not difficult to discern. “When looking at information discussing the dangers of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the global goals of the CFR become obvious,” the senator warned, citing the “free trade” scheme negotiated by CFR member Robert Lighthizer and strongly endorsed by CFR boss Richard Haass.
Especially among Republicans and grassroots conservatives, thanks largely to the efforts of Americanist organizations such as The John Birch Society and Eagle Forum, even establishment types have long recognized that a public association with the CFR can be politically toxic among voters. That is why, for instance, former Vice President Dick Cheney, who served as a director of CFR, boasted in a speech at the CFR of concealing his ties to the globalist organization while campaigning for reelection in Wyoming. But the CFR appears to be working to create ties with lawmakers and policymakers on both sides of the aisle nonetheless.
The CFR is a powerful organization with a well-documented track-record of promoting globalism, undeclared war, unconstitutional Big Government policies, and more. This report will perpetuate that history. So far, the Task Force and “The Work Ahead” report have received very little attention by the establishment press, much of which is openly in bed with the CFR — including many outlets that are corporate members of the group. However, a push to advance the CFR Task Force’s agenda is almost certainly coming, after the groundwork has been properly laid.
As Admiral Ward explained, when the CFR’s leadership decides to pursue a policy, the incredibly powerful propaganda and lobbying apparatus at its disposal represents a force to be reckoned with. That day is likely coming on this agenda, too. For right now, globalism is on defense. But over the long term, only an educated and informed electorate will be able to defend freedom and resist these growing assaults.
Alex Newman is a correspondent for The New American, covering economics, education, politics, and more. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ALEXNEWMAN_JOU or on Facebook