I admit it. I'm starting to feel sorry for Puppetmaster Pope. Things have gotten so bad that he's had to write a whole durn column in the News and Observer to explain why the mean old faculty at NCSU should want this "dirty money" and stop saying he's profoundly anti-democratic. His self defense is robust:
There is no factual basis for this. The hard-earned funds the Pope Foundation has received from my family and our company represent earnings from decades of general merchandise retailing in North Carolina and beyond that have provided thousands of jobs and served millions of satisfied customers. Rather than being "anti-democratic," I have served the state as an elected public official. As a legislator I have voted for billions of dollars in education funding, including for scarce public dollars for repairing or replacing outdated and often-hazardous engineering facilities at N.C. State. I have voted against state budgets that did not fund the state's priorities and in fact led to shortfalls and forced reversions of university funds in the middle of the academic year.
I don't doubt any of what Mr. Pope says in his eloquent Defense of Rich White Guys. His record of support includes all of what he mentions and more. But there are a few things he doesn't mention that objective observers might want to consider.
First, the earnings from decades of general merchandise retailing are based in a business model that looks like this:
Store Site Criteria
We look primarily for locations in second and third generation shopping centers. In addition, we will consider free-standing sites, and store front locations in large urban cities. Site criteria include:
* Grocery anchored shopping center preferred.
* Minimum population of 2,500 within 1 mile of the site.
* Minimum 25% African-American population within 5 miles.
* Median household income of $40,000 or less.
BlueNC contributor George Pence called this Robin Hood in Reverse (please read if you haven't already) and that strikes me as a fair analysis. is exactly as It must be tough to be a really rich white guy these days. gotta do to get some respect these days?
The other big problem I have with Mr. Pope is his belief that it's okay to spend hundreds of thousands of his corporate earnings to influence local elections here in North Carolina. He and the free-market fundamentalists he controls think that if something can be bought and sold, it should be . . . including our democracy.
Despite whatever good he has done, Art Pope is single-handedly funding a full-frontal assault on the common ground that unites us. What's more, his Puppets at the John Locke Foundation display a level of intellectual dishonesty that few serious academic professionals would want to be associated with. Given JLF's record on the wisdom of planning and science, and their cavalier attitudes around mercury poisoning, emissions, poverty and more, it's no wonder faculty members at NSCU don't want to anything to do with the Puppetmaster.