The Hittman Chronicle

Dave Hitt

If you listen to NPR you've probably heard the announcement that a show was "Supported by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation." Very few people have any idea who they are, or what they do.

Their name might lead you to they make "marital aids" out of wood. Most artificial phalluses are made of plastic or silicone, so wooden ones might be a welcome change. You could have some fun using different kids of woods for different sizes of johnsons. Average sizes would be made from ash or white pine. Extra large wooden johnsons would be made from ebony and black cherry. And tiny Asian versions could be made from bonsai trees.

But the Robert Wood Johnson foundation isn't interested in increasing your pleasure. They are an anti-pleasure organization devoted to increasing government interference in every aspect of your life, all in the name of health. On their web site they brag that they are "the nation's largest philanthropy devoted to improving health and health care." On NPR their slogan is "committed to helping Americans lead healthy lives and get the care they need." In reality they are a front group for the pharmaceutical industry, specifically for the giant Johnson & Johnson corporation.

If Johnson & Johnson were to get directly involved in the politics of health most people would be very suspicious of their motives and critical of their claims. So one of the founders did something very clever - he set up the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as an "independent" charity whose primary source of income is the dividends on six billion (yes, billion) dollars worth of Johnson & Johnson stock. What's good for J&J is good for RWJF.

Of the three billion dollars it claims to have spent since its inception, hundreds of millions have gone to attacking smokers. Many supposedly grass-roots organizations and political coalitions calling for bans on smoking in public and/or higher tobacco taxes are quietly funded by RWJF. How many of them realize they are acting as puppets of big pharma?

Regular readers know of my dealings with the anti tobacco shill James Repace. Mr. Repace has spent nearly three decades lying about smoke and smokers. He claims that removing tobacco smoke from a room requires 300 mile an hour winds, that smoke doesn't dissipate outdoors but forms little white tornados that hunt down non-smokers, and sucking down exhaust fumes near a highway is safer than in inhaling a bit of smoke in a bar. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has given him hundreds of thousands of dollars to fabricate such studies and spew his bile, and then gave him an award for performing so well. First you buy a monkey, then you train your monkey, then you give him a little monkey treat.

Political activism can theoretically cost a charity its non-profit status. Although this law is (sadly) seldom enforced, RJWF is careful not to violate it directly. Instead of pushing for laws themselves, they generously fund third party activist groups, then sit back and let their lackeys do all the work.

Why do they do this? Every time a smoking ban or other restrictions are put in place some smokers decide to quit. When they do, many of them will try nicotine replacement therapy. Johnson and Johnson makes nicotine patches, nicotine gum, nicotine sprays, nicotine inhalers, and are probably working on nicotine breakfast cereals and air fresheners. These products are enormously profitable. Consider that you can buy 50 sticks of gum for about two bucks at any dollar store. Putting a hint of nicotine in it lets J&J charge thirty dollars for forty pieces.

Every sale increases the profitably of J&J, which increases the stock dividend, which increases the income of . . . the Robert Wood Johnson foundation. Yet, the foundation is independent of the corporation. Pretty clever, isn't it?

BTW, there are now several studies that show NRT doesn't work. Smokers who quit cold turkey have at least twice the successes rate of those using those using NRT. Some studies show even bigger differences. And isn't it surprising that none of these studies were funded by RWJF?

I'm writing about their anti-tobacco activities because that's what I'm most familiar with, but they've got their fingers (at least I hope it's their fingers) stuck into a lot of other American pies. They're anti booze, and have spent hundreds of millions to fund studies and programs that encourage higher taxes on alcohol and restrictions on marketing and advertising. That includes gifts to the junk science machine "The Center for Science in the Public Interest" to fight "binge drinking."

They're also anti-drug. Well, anti illegal drug, supporting groups like the "Partnership for a Drug Free America." If you've had a rough day and want to smoke a joint, you should go to jail. But if you take big pharma approved happy pills, day after day after day after day, you're a good little citizen!

To be fair, some of the things they do, like funding NPR shows, don't directly profit Johnson & Johnson. But you won't find them funding anything that can hurt J&J either.

Please, don't take my word for it. You're encouraged to do your own research into their projects. How many of them are of a nanny nature, designed to force you into health and lifestyle decisions they approve of? How many of them directly and indirectly affect the value of Johnson and Johnson stock? If you find anything that might have a negative impact on J&J, I will personally buy you a cigar, a beer, a fatty burger, or anything else that RWJF is trying to make illegal.

It's really a shame they're squandering their name. They would have very little trouble making artificial phalluses, because the organization is made up of complete dicks and absolute dildos.

Additional Information

Some of their past grants.

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May 2007


© 2007 Dave Hitt .

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