018: Putting the ‘Think’ Into Think Tanks


For this episode of The Future Is A Mixtape, Jesse & Matt have a discussion with Matt Bruenig--a lawyer, blogger, political analyst and Twitter-dynamo who’s got your back when you’re kettled by Roaming Hillbots and Randian Regressives. More importantly though, Matt has just started the first grassroots, people-powered think tank called The People’s Policy Project (3P). Funded by small donations from $5 to $15 dollars, 3P is an attempt to actually make Think Tanks “think” again, but for the purpose of actually benefitting the 80% Americans who now own only 20% of the nation’s wealth, and are increasingly living lives of quiet desperation. We will discuss Bruenig’s childhood, his educational experiences and awareness-path toward political change, his history as a blogger for the think tank Demos, and his surprising success at crowd-funding 3P via Patreon. We will also talk about where Matt plans to take this new and enterprising venture in the years ahead.

Mentioned In This Episode:

The World of Mattness:

The People’s History of Matt Bruenig

Matt’s Official Website and Blog Page

Matt’s Twitter Page & Wrecking Tweets (@MattBruenig)

The People’s Policy Project (3P)

The People’s Policy Project on Twitter (@PplPolicyProj)

Some Notable Essays by Matt Bruenig: Here, Here and Here

Some Notable Podcasts Where Matt Appears:

The Jacobin’s The Dig with Danvir: “Bruenig on Why Welfare Is Great and Need More of It”

The Katie Halper Show: “Matt Bruenig on Liberals Who Are Actually Conservative + Get Out!”

Delete Your Account Podcast: “The Welfare State”

Why Snyder Was a Good Last Name (While It Lasted):

Gary Snyder as Featured in The New Yorker: “Zen Master”

. . . Then “Snyder” Found Bad Luck in the 21st Century:

Fallen Marine, Matthew Snyder Heckled by Westboro Church Members as Seen in the SCOTUS case Snyder v. Phelps and in The New York Times: “Justices Rule for Protesters at Military Funerals”

Zack Snyder (Awful Director of More Noble Comic Book Heroes) as Explored in The Guardian: “From Suicide Squad to Batman v. Superman, Why Are DC’s Films So Bad?”

Rick Snyder (Awful Governor of Michigan) Being Roasted and Cross-Examined in The Washington Post: “The Flint Disaster is Rick Snyder’s Fault”

Do Boys and Girls Like Trucks and Buses or Barbies and Conversation? Or Both? Simon Baron-Cohen in The Guardian: “They Just Can’t Help It.” Here Is an Excerpt:
"How early are such sex differences in empathy evident? Certainly, by 12 months , girls make more eye contact than boys. But a new study carried out in my lab at Cambridge University shows that at birth, girls look longer at a face, and boys look longer at a suspended mechanical mobile. Furthermore, the Cambridge team found that how much eye contact children make is in part determined by a biological factor: prenatal testosterone. This has been demonstrated by measuring this hormone in amniotic fluid."

Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X and the Millennials: A Generation Differences Chart

Sarah Stankorb in Vogue Magazine: “Xennials, or 30-Something Millennials, a Micro-Generation With a Writer to Thank”

Reality Bites - Metaphor and Symbol of the Grunge Age? Or Is It, as Expressed in Jezebel, Lindy West Writes “I Rewatched Reality Bites and It’s Basically a Manual for Shitheads”

Jim Puzzanghera in The Los Angeles Times: “Economy Has Recovered 8.7 Million Jobs Lost in Great Recession”

PBS’s 25th Anniversary Special: Looking Back at the LA Riots After the Beating of Rodney King

Anna Deavere Smith’s Stunning ‘Documentary Theater’ Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992

Savior America’s Low-Morale Car Industry and the Comeback King in the 1990s Is Explored in Autotrader: “A Look Back at the Ford Taurus”

John Bellamy Foster in The Monthly Review: “The Financialization of Capital and the Crisis”

When Contrasting Presidential Terms, 22 Million Jobs Were Created During Clinton Regime Versus Bush 2 Million During His Eight Years in Office: “Job Creation by President: Number and Percent”

Sara McClanahan in The American Prospect: “The Consequences of Single Motherhood”

Michael Morris in The Huffington Post: “The Earned Income Tax Credit: A Pathway Out of Poverty for Millions of Americans with Disabilities”

The Podcast Radiolab Provides A Moving and Deeply Thoughtful Exploration About the History of U.S. High School Debates & What Happens When A Black Queer Student Challenges This Culture as an Institutional Force: “Debatable”

The School of Life Explores John Rawls’ Life and His Most Important Contribution, The Veil of Ignorance: “POLITICAL THEORY - John Rawls”

Lance Weiler in The World Economic Forum: “How Storytelling Has Changed in the Digital Age”

Peter Guber in Psychology Today: “The Inside Story”  Excerpt: “Telling stories is not just the oldest form of entertainment, it's the highest form of consciousness. The need for narrative is embedded deep in our brains. Increasingly, success in the information age demands that we harness the hidden power of stories.”

Sociology - Relight the Mechanisms That Justify Your Life Story: Social Construction of Reality and Dramaturgy

Owen Jones in The Guardian: “The Iraq War Was Not A Blunder or a Mistake. It Was a Crime.”

Theresa Amato in Vox: “I Ran Ralph Nader's Campaigns. A Political Revolution Is Vital — and Much Harder Than You Think.”

Quinn Norton in Wired: “Beyond the Rhetoric: The Complicated, Brief Life of Occupy Boston”

Occupy Riverside Still Exists on Facebook (At Least)

The San Bernardino Sun: “Occupy Movements from Inland Empire Meet Together”

The Dangers Found in Call-Out-Culture as Explored in Kristian Williams’ Long Essay in Toward Freedom: “The Politics of Denunciation”

Mark Fisher in The North Star: “Exiting the Vampire Castle”

Yamiche Alcindor in The New York Times: “Black Lives Matter Coalition Makes Demands as Campaign Heats Up”

“Folk Politics” as Explored by Alex Williams and Nick Srnicek in The Disorder of Things: “Inventing the Future”

Classical Definition of “Prefigurative Politics”

Samuel Farber in the International Socialist Review: “Reflections on ‘Prefigurative Politics”

Jo Freeman’s Massively Influential and Famous Essay (Among Activists): “The Tyranny of Structurelessness

Jason Stahl in Jacobin: “Do We Need a Socialist Think Tank?”

Nicole Gaudiano in USA Today: “‘The Sanders Institute:’ Jane Sanders Launches New Think Tank”

Alex Shephard and Clio Chang in The New Republic: “How Neera Tanden Works: Emails released by WikiLeaks reveal the maneuverings of a liberal think-tank president and member of Hillary Clinton's inner circle.”

The Spoils System

Dino Grandoni in The Atlantic: “Obama Likes the Spoils System as Much as Any President”

TINA: There Is No Alternative

Adam Curtis’ Blog Post About the Origins of the First Think Tank in Britain: “The Curse of Tina” An Excerpt from His Survey About The International Policy Network:

“Think Tanks surround politics today and are the very things that are supposed to generate new ideas. But if you go back and look at how they rose up - at who invented them and why - you discover they are not quite what they seem. That in reality they may have nothing to do with genuinely developing new ideas, but have become a branch of the PR industry whose aim is to do the very opposite - to endlessly prop up and reinforce today's accepted political wisdom.

So successful have they been in this task that many Think Tanks have actually become serious obstacles to really thinking about new and inspiring visions of how to change society for the better.”

Tom Liacas in Mashable: “How Online Activist Groups Are Raising Millions to Keep Corporations in Line”

Cesar Chavez’s United Food Workers (UFW) Was Successfully Committed and Focused Because It Relied Upon A Large, Balanced Ring of Small-to-Medium Donations; Now as Recorded in Miriam Powell’s Article in The Los Angeles Times, “Farmerworkers Reap Little as Union Strays From Its Roots”

A History of the National Labor Review Board (NLRB)

J.K Trotter in Gawker: “Liberal Think Tank Fires Blogger for Rude Tweets”

Michelle Goldberg in Slate Magazine: “Is Matt Bruenig a Populist Martyr?”

Sam Levine in The Huffington Post: “Pro-Bernie Blogger Raises $25,000 After Getting Fired For Attacking Clinton Backers”

“Scumbag Neera [Tanden]” Was a Play and Meme Allusion on “Scumbag Steve”

Deadline Hollywood: “Reza Aslan Out At CNN On Heels Of Trump ‘Piece of Sh*t’ Tweet”

Matthew’s Local Union from UC-AFT (University of California & American Federation of Teachers): 1966!

The National Labor Review Board’s Position on Social Media

Matt Bruenig’s GoFundMe Account After Demos Fired Him

After Bruenig Raised More Than He Needed, He Asked Supporter to Donate to Eric Harwood’s GoFundMe Page. You Can Read About the Story of Harwood in One of Bruenig’s Blog Posts Here.

Terry Gilliam’s Famous Sendup to 1984, Kafka & Bureaucracy with Brazil

George Zimmerman ($100,000!): Don’t Look Like Him, Matt! “George Zimmerman Auctioning Off Gun He Used to Kill Trayvon Martin”

The People’s Policy Project (3P): Here Are Some Supporting Writers That Have Contributed to the Think Tank Thus Far . . .

Peter Gowan and Mio Tastas Viktorsson’s “Tackling Wealth Inequality Like A Swede”

Peter Gowan’s “Models For Worker Codetermination In Europe”

Michelle Styczynski’s “What Does The Stock Market Do For Workers’ Wages? Nothing”

Matthijs Krul’s “Does The Dutch Healthcare System Show The Way?”

The “About” Page for 3P & an Excerpt:

“Unlike most think tanks, which are financed by large corporations and foundations, 3P is funded by small donors pledging $5 to $15 per month on the Patreon platform. This unique funding source enables us to publish policy insights untainted by the compromises typically demanded by monied interests. We are, as the name suggests, the People’s Policy Project, not Walmart’s Policy Project and not the Gates Foundation’s Policy Project.

The work of 3P aims to fill the holes left by the current think tank landscape with a special focus on socialist and social democratic economic ideas.”

Gus Bagakis in Truthout: “Faith in Charity Is Hopeless: Philanthrocapitalism Has Failed Us”

Instead of Philanthrocapitalism How About Givedirectly.org?

As One Princeton Study Details, Direct Donations Are Far More Effective than NGOs

Matt Bruenig’s Policyshop (Blog) at Demos: “How Much Money Would It Take to Eliminate U.S. Poverty?”

Alex Emmons in The Intercept: “The Senate’s Military Spending Increase Alone Is Enough to Make Public College Free”

CNBC News: “A $1,000 Per Month Cash Handout Would Grow the Economy by $2.5 Trillion, New Study Says”

Reading the Fine Print, From the Roosevelt Institute, Which Is Glorious to Behold: “Modeling the Macroeconomic Effects of a Universal Basic Income”

Matt Bruenig in Medium: “The UBI already exists for the 1%”

A Counterattack from Tim Worstall in Forbes Magazine: “Matt Bruenig Says The 1% Already Gets A Universal Basic Income - So Why Not One For All?”

Hillary Clinton invented UBI? Did She? Or Is This Matt Snyder’s Fib? Dylan Matthews in Vox: “Hillary Clinton Almost Ran for President on a Universal Basic Income”

Matt Bruenig’s Vision For Changing Society with a Better Understanding of Transforming the Use of Capital:

1: Enlarge Our Welfare System to Something Akin to the Nordic System

2: Expand Labor/Union Rates Via Legal Protections  

3: Develop Capital Social Fund Dividends as Seen in Norway

Jesse Herring’s Suggestion for 7-Point Platform, “The Slingshot Seven”:

Healthcare for All

Renewable Energy Plan Toward 100% Usage

Universal Basic Income (UBI) for All

Demilitarization: Both Domestic & Foreign

Tuition-Free Education

Getting Money Out of Politics

$15-Hour Minimum Wage (Adjusted to Inflation)

David Levinthal on the Koch Brothers Funding of Colleges in The Atlantic: “Spreading the Free-Market Gospel”

Draft Bernie for a People’s Party

Matt Bruenig in the People’s Policy Project: “The Contents Of The New Medicare-For-All Bill”

Catherine Rampell’s Inflammatory Op-Ed in The Washington Post: “Sanderscare Is All Cheap Politics and Magic Math”

Michael Sainato in The Observer: “Recall Campaign for California Democrat Takes Big Step Forward”

Physicians for a National Healthcare System: (PNHP): “California Speaker Anthony Rendon Calls for Hearings on Universal Health Care”

Elana Schor in Politico: “Chris Murphy’s Stealthy Single-Payer Pitch”

Ryan Skolnick in Medium: “Rendon is Wrong: SB 562 is Not ‘Woefully Incomplete’”

Frantz Pierre’s Los Angeles - Basic Income Project on Indiegogo

On Patreon: “Scott Santens Is Creating Support for Unconditional Basic Income”

The Guardian: “What Makes Norway Is the World’s Happiest Country” (2017)

CNN’s Travel: The Top-Ten Rankings for the Happiest Places on Earth for 2017