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Sunday, May 19, 2013

LITTLE GREEN HOUSE Part Seven


I guess it must have been like awaking from a dream. With the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the revolution demanded by the Great Depression was suddenly unleashed. Federal spending rose from $9.4 billion in 1940, to $13 billion in 1941, to $30 billion in 1942, and $65 billion by 1943, and from just 9% of the total Gross Domestic Product in 1940, to almost 50%. Unemployment was still at almost 10% in 1941, but by 1943 it had dropped to less then 2%. And the Federal District had gone from less than 1 million residents in 1940 to 2,100,000 in 1943. The dreamer awakened to discover the America of 1929 had been the dream.
"Lobbying is part of a larger process of social and legislative change. To be successful, it should be just one part of a strategic campaign that includes working with the press, grassroots activism, letter writing, and litigation. Each of these elements should be integrated with direct conversations with legislator."
Milo Public Affairs LLC
Emblematic of this change was the Pentagon, which was built in only 15 months (on land once occupied by  the Bonus Marchers' shantytown), and officially opened on January 15, 1943. It was the largest office building in the world (at the time) with some 6 ½ million square feet of space, but only four stories tall to save on steel. The joke around town was that the building was so big that a teenage Western Union Messenger got lost among the endless corridors and by the time he made it out, he was a Lt. Colonel.  Early on, a member of the 42,000 army of clerks, the vast majority of whom were women, went into labor. As he dialed for an ambulance the guard chastised the woman for even coming to work in her condition. She explained, “When I came in here, I wasn't in this condition.”
“Fifteen million people in the United States are represented by lobbyists. The other 150 million have only one man who is elected at large to represent them – that is the President of the United States”
Harry Truman 1947
In comparison, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial (above) was begun in November of 1938 and  took  3 ½ years to complete. And upon its opening, on April 13, 1943, the centerpiece statue was painted plaster. The intended bronze likeness of Jefferson would not be cast and put in place until in 1948, when bronze was no longer a vital war commodity. Later that same year of 1943, the new 11 story office building at 1625 K street, built on the site of the Little Green House, would be also be completed.
The little Green house had been demolished in May of 1941, after the lot was purchased by developers. The firm of Singletary Rueda designed an 11 story, 108,000 square feet of floor space, 1,260,000 cubic square feet of “living” space, building. It also opened in 1943.  It cost $500,000 ($6.5 million today). The developers got a building fronted with a limestone and with a polished granite lobby. The less visible side and rear of the building showed a cheaper brick veneer. They named it the Commonwealth Building. And although it was described as a general use Office building, because of its location, just three blocks from the White House and the Executive Office Building, it was a prime location for lobbyists.
“You know, the only trouble with capitalism is capitalists, they're too damn greedy.”
Herbert Hoover - March 1934
In 1950 the British Medical Journal – The Lancet – published a study indicating a close link between drawing cigarette smoke into your lungs and and cancer. In 1954 a 20 year study of 40,000 smoking English doctors was published, which confirmed that relationship. It was estimated that between 1930 and 1959 11 million smokers worldwide would die of smoking related cancers and strokes. The British government issued advice that people should stop smoking.
Meanwhile the United States Tobacco industry managed to deny reality for another seven years. In the spring of 1963 the big six tobacco companies - R. J. Reynolds, American Tobacco, Brown & Williamson, Liggett & Myers, P. Lorillard, and Philip Morris - hired as their chief lobbyist ex- Kentucky Governor, ex-Senator and ex-majority Whip of the House of Representatives -  and close personal friend of President Lyndon Johnson -  Earl C. Clements (above).
“Lobbying, like all persuasion, is story telling....When you lobby, tell a good story. Put a face on the issue, preferably a face from the legislator's home district. Also put the story in a larger context - your example is but one story among many. Talk about a world in which your problem doesn't exist, lay out the existence of your problem, and why the target is the key to the solution.”
Milo Public Affairs. LLC
On Saturday, January 11, 1964 the Surgeon General's report was released to 200 reporters. The ten doctor panel was unanimous in finding a direct link between smoking and lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, cardiovascular diseases and cancer of the larynx. Within three months consumption of cigarettes dropped 20%. And then Clements swung into operation.
“I earn a living fronting an organization that kills 1200 people a day. Twelve hundred people. We're talking two jumbo jet plane loads of men, women and children. I mean, there's Attila, Genghis... and me, Nick Naylor. The face of cigarettes, the Colonel Sanders of nicotine.” 
“Thank You For Smoking”. Fox Searchlight Pictures. 2006
Tobacco in 1962 was a $7 billion industry. That year Americans smoked on average 4,300 cigarettes apiece. The industry paid $3 billion in taxes and spent $250 million in advertising. What is amazing is that with this much at stake, Clement convinced the Big Six not to deny the dangers of smoking. Rather, he urged them to not only accept warning labels on each pack, but to insist that they should write the labels.  In fact, suggested Earl Clement, those labels could be powerful defense against wrongful death lawsuits. His strategy worked so well that tobacco use actually increased, as did the cost of smoking - almost $100 billion in lost productivity each year and $22,000 in additional medical cost over the shortened lifetime of every smoker. But even today, while smoking "weed" will get you jail time, smoking tobacco is still legal. 
“Nick: Okay, let's say that you're defending chocolate and I'm defending vanilla. Now, if I were to say to you, "Vanilla's the best flavor ice cream", you'd say …?
Joey: "No, chocolate is."
Nick: Well, I need more than chocolate. And for that matter, I need more than vanilla. I believe what we need is freedom and choice when it comes to our ice cream, and that...is the definition of liberty.
Joey: But that's not what we're talking about.
Nick: Ah, but that's what I'm talking about.”
Thank You For Smoking. Fox Searchlight Pictures. 20006
For his amazing work, in 1966, Clements was named to the well paid position of president of the Tobacco Institute He died in 1985 and was buried in his hometown cemetery, in Morganfield, Kentucky. His cause of death is, oddly, given  nowhere in his obituaries.
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