Hurricane Maria killed 64, 247 or 2,975 persons last year, depending on what source you believe – FEMA, the Puerto Rico government or the Koch-backed GWU’s Milken Institute School of Public Health.
As recently as Sept. 5, Puerto Rico officials had complete details on only 64 individuals, who died in the hurricane and its aftermath. At the same time. those same officials told CNN the actual total should be 247 – the number of families whose deaths FEMA confirmed to be storm-related.
These 247 families received a total of $565,882 in assistance from FEMA to cover some funeral and burial expenses, according to Dasha Castillo, an agency spokeswoman. To compound matters FEMA said there were another 2,350 cases that were still under review for FEMA burial aid.
What happened to the agreed official death toll of 247?
The change came after George Washington University (GWU) was paid by Puerto Rico to provide a new death total. That number became 2,975, or slightly more than the current total burial claims under review plus those already paid.
Without the GWU study, FEMA would only have been obligated to pay the 247 families then agreed upon by the agency and the island’s officials.
This GWU study defended its results as “excess deaths”- a meaningless term for a nation lacking a full electric grid and clean water – even before the storm.
“We are confident that the number — 2,975 — is the most accurate and unbiased estimate of excess mortality to date,” the institute claimed.
On its release I wondered how objective was this study by GWU, an analysis that overlooked the real problems of Puerto Rico, especially longtime crumbling infrastructure and incredible debt caused by massive borrowing from Wall Street? Was someone trying to shift the blame from crony capitalism to nature’s whims?
Suddenly, a revelation.
The Charles Koch Foundation began its relationship with GWU by donating more than $100,000 in 2012 to support research fellowships in the School of Business and the University’s regulatory policy center. This was one of the largest donations to a university that the billionaire-backed organization made that year.
|George Mason University Foundation (GMU)||Fairfax||VA||$58,827,554|
|GMU – Institute for Humane Studies (IHS)||Arlington||VA||$28,077,092|
|GMU – Mercatus Center||Arlington||VA||$8,658,500|
|Florida State University||Tallahassee||FL||$2,391,687|
|Texas Tech University||Lubbock||TX||$2,159,500|
|Jack Miller Center (nonprofit, finances universities)||Buffalo Grove||IL||$2,101,500|
|Utah State University||Logan||UT||$2,048,500|
|West Virginia University Foundation||Morgantown||WV||$1,596,150|
|Utah State University – Strata Policy, Inc||Logan||UT||$1,481,600|
|University of Texas, Austin||Austin||TX||$1,387,608|
|Southern Methodist University||Dallas||TX||$1,221,800|
|Arizona State University Foundation||Tempe||AZ||$1,172,927|
|University of Arizona Foundation||Tuscon||AZ||$1,155,565|
|Troy University Foundation||Troy||AL||$1,110,960|
|Catholic University of America||Washington||DC||$1,045,500|
|University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill||Chapel Hill||NC||$780,300|
|George Washington University||Washington||DC||$775,133|
Susan Dudley, director of the GW Regulatory Studies Center, said the Koch funds help graduate students in the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration, so they can afford unpaid internships in the federal government.
Dudley came to GW from the George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, which has received more than $8.5 million from Koch.
The Mercatus Center is the same group that recently produced the widely-reported “warning” that Medicare for All would cost the government more than $32 trillion over the course of ten years. That estimate assumed no co-pays, insurance or premiums, just total cost. Americans and their employers would pay nothing for needed healthcare.
Current national medical spending is more than $10,000 per person, which means our 327 million population would require funding of $3.27 trillion annually or $32.7 trillion over ten years. However, Mercatus did not include the savings that Medicare for All would allow over ten years:
- Three trillion dollars by negotiating drug prices.
- Four trillion dollars by eliminating drug company profits now guaranteed at 20%.
- Untold trillions by controlling medical fraud, inflated payments, and over-medication.
Many organizations, including Greenpeace, are also upset that Koch investments in universities have skyrocketed from just seven schools in 2005 to more than 250 today.
This investment idea (money to colleges) comes from the supervision of Koch Industries executive Richard Fink, whose political strategy, the “Structure of Social Change,” is built around universities providing ideas for Koch political groups to manufacture into policies the groups then advocate, according to Greenpeace.
The Koch brothers’ father, Fred Koch, was a founder of the John Birch Society, an organization long opposed to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and even the minimum wage. Birchers urge privatization of everyone’s needs, including education, with no government regulation of business or protections for consumers.