You may remember Jay Lehr from an earlier comment on his use by CNN and other reputable news organization as a nuclear safety expert (“Unrequested fission surplus”: Kent Brockman, meet Jay Lehr 15 March 2011). Jay made the rounds of some of America’s finest journalistic green rooms last year, bravely assuring us that there was nothing wrong at the tsunami struck Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Despite Jay’s assurances of the highest safety technology and standards, and the impossibility of any real damage, the disaster drove tens of thousands from their homes (likely forever), revealed a sordid history of company mismanagement and criminality, and was projected last year to cost the Japanese taxpayers over one trillion US dollars for clean up alone. Jay also boldly predicted no one would die as a result of the events. Studies now estimate up to 1000 locals will be expected to die from radiation released during the explosions, steam release, and melt-downs at the plant. So he owes me a coke.
In recent days, a leak from within The Heartland Institute — the craven industry backed advertising agency for which Lehr is “Science Director” — has revealed all sorts of nasty details. Richard Littlemore at DeSmogBlog fills us in:
…the Heartland Institute’s budget, fundraising plan, its Climate Strategy for 2012 and sundry other documents (all attached)… prove all of the worst allegations that have been levelled against the organization.
It is clear from the documents that Heartland advocates against responsible climate mitigation and then uses that advocacy to raise money from oil companies and “other corporations whose interests are threatened by climate policies.” Heartland particularly celebrates the funding that it receives from the fossil fuel fortune being the Charles G. Koch Foundation.
Back to Jay Lehr. This little leak allows us to see exactly what a disgraced ex-hydrologist gets paid for doing industry PR. And it isn’t much.
As an “Independent Contractor” Lehr tops out at $42 thousand dollars a year (before taxes: thank you very much nanny state!). Being independent also means he has no health insurance or pension. I wouldn’t count on paid vacations either. Compare this to the DC office director, who makes $150k, or their Google Adwords budget of $40k. Even their budget for 2012 Chicago public events rivals Lehr’s entire take home ($12,700 to put on an event with John Stossel for 150 people? Do they have to pay the audience?)
This just points to an old truth about capitalism. Capital (and those who have it) rule. You can suck up all you want, but none of us are indispensable to the rich. We produce, they get paid. They can always buy a few folks for cheap, to break a strike, fight a war, or ever cover up destruction of the planet. But just don’t come round once you’re no longer useful, or sick, or old. Or irradiated.
- Heartland Institute takes money from Kochs, gives it to deniers (grist.org)
- Heartland Institute Exposed: Internal Documents Unmask Heart of Climate Denial Machine (desmogblog.com)
- Howler: Heartland Institute bad – DeSmogBlog says so! (junkscience.com)
- Japan Crisis Show Bookers: Heartland Institute Science Director an Expert on Nuclear Power, Geology (says prweb.com)