Get sick, get well
Hang around a ink well
Ring bell, hard to tell
If anything is goin' to sell
-- Bob Dylan

Friday, November 15, 2013

Enron's "King of Natural Gas" turns to power philanthropy. Goes after "lavish" pensions.

John and Laura Arnold

Power philanthropist and billionaire hedge-funder John Arnold comes out of Enron's criminal enterprise. Arnold made millions trading natural gas derivatives at Enron and then billions from his hedge fund. He was known on Wall Street as the  "king of natural gas."  But when natural gas prices slumped, he turned full-time to running his foundation along with wife, Laura. According to the John and Laura Arnold Foundation, the fund has assets of $1.2 billion. They probably figured, if Bill and Emily could make the jump from Microsoft...

The pair have tried and reinvent themselves and escape further Enron tarring by setting up their own foundation "which seeks to effect transformative change in some of our nation’s most pressing and complex policy areas, including education, criminal justice, research integrity, public accountability and health care."

What is this "transformative change" they wish to bring to public education?

They have been one of the largest benefactors behind Paul Vallas' post-Katrina charter-ization of New Orleans two-tier school system. They have also been a force behind Michelle Rhee's Student First group and Teach for America. But their greatest passion seems to be so called "pension reform" The Arnolds have given millions to groups supporting ballot initiatives that would scale back what critics regard as "overly lavish public employee pension deals."

Anne Milgram, the former New Jersey attorney general hired to tackle the criminal-justice issue, has a name for all this: She calls it the "Moneyball" approach to giving, a reference to the book and movie about how the Oakland A's used smart statistical analysis to upend some of baseball's conventional wisdom.

Billy Bean, what hast thou wrought upon us and our "lavish" pensions?

But when Diane Ravitch and others called them out on this, they feigned hurt.You know -- "Don't hate us because we're rich" -- that kind of thing. They even copped to being liberals and Obama supporters, as if that would knock Ravitch off their trail.
I have been referred to as everything from a “young right-wing kingmaker with clear designs on becoming the next generation’s Koch brothers” (despite my very vocal support of President Obama and my numerous contributions to left-of-center causes) to a “lipless, eager little jerk.”
Whoever made the "lipless" remark ought to apologize. As you can see from the picture above, John has two lips.

 Ravitch admitted she was a little rough on them, and apologized for slightly overestimating how much money they made at Enron and even offered some suggestions about how the Arnolds could better spend their billions.


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