A Rich Life

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For years an internationally powerful organization has been meeting behind closed doors. Neither the public nor the press are invited, the meetings are by invitation only, members are not allowed to report to the press, and are discouraged from publishing their remarks. This private club of several hundred individuals from around the world includes extremely wealthy business leaders, heads of state, presidents of highly influential think tanks, and Nobel Prize winners. They make no bones about their agenda – to create a “one world” policy matching their own. And, according to recent meetings, many of the participants think they are winning.

Who is this worldwide covert power structure? The Trilateral Commission? The Council on Foreign Relations? The Bilderbergers? The IIIuminati?

No, it’s the Mont Pelerin Society, the international organization of freedom fighters created in 1947 by Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, and Milton Friedman.

Not many conspiracy theorists consider the Mont Pelerin Society an international secret society with sinister motives, but if you think about it, the

MPS isn’t much different than the CFR. Both meet in private in hopes of changing the world. Whether they have succeeded or not is another question.

And that brings me to David Rockefeller, considered by some as “conspirator in chief,” whose newly released Memoirs is surprisingly candid and engulfing. It’s all here – family feuds, liaisons with Communists, making and losing millions of grandfather’s fortune, World War II, OPEC. You feel like you’ve relived the world history of the 20th century after reading Rockefeller’s 517-page odyssey.

As a young conservative, I grew up fearing nuclear war, communism, and the giant one-world conspiracy of the Rockefellers, the Rothchilds, and other private banking dynasties. In the early 1970s I read paperbacks like None Dare Call It Conspiracy by Gary Allen and Larry Abraham and The Naked Capitalist. written by my uncle, W. Cleon Skousen. Men like the Rockefellers were not only the most powerful men in the world, I was told, but downright evil, working behind the scenes to create the world’s central banks, manipulate the rise and fall of governments, and institute a one-world socialist state.

I have a great deal of respect for these conservative writers, especially my uncle. I have no doubt that giant underworld conspiracies do exist – the Communist Party certainly was one – but I do not think that the Rockefellers, or any other group, can control the world. The countervailing forces are simply too massive for any one group to achieve monopolistic control for very long.

In the mid-1990s, working on an article for Forbes, I interviewed David Rockefeller in his offices on the famed 56th floor of Rockefeller Center. Boy, was I disappointed. He shocked me with the statement, “I am an Austrian economist!” It’s true, in a way. In Memoirs, he describes how he learned economics at Harvard from the great Austrian enfant terrible Joseph Schumpeter who taught him to reject Keynes; then enrolled in the London School of Economics and sat at the feet of Friedrich Hayek and Lionel Robbins, who taught him to reject Harold Laski, “the pied piper of the left”; and finally, wrote his Ph.D. dissertation at that famous bastion of free-market economics, the University of Chicago (founded by his grandfather). Hayek helped Rockefeller choose his dissertation topic on economic waste; his dissertation committee included Frank Knight and Jacob Viner.

Yet it would be a grave distortion to suggest that this academic pedigree makes Rockefeller some kind of libertarian. His generation of Rockefellers has been enthusiastic supporters of big government and of a large “safety net” welfare state. David waxes eloquently about his brother’s four-year term as governor of New York and creation of a “model of progressive state government.” He liked Alger Hiss and, when rumors were flying of Hiss’s being a Soviet agent, David was the only board member of the Carnegie Endowment to vote against firing him as president. He describes Yasser Arafat as “a small, canny, and charming man,” not as a terrorist. He withdrew from the ” ultraconservative” Pesenti Group because he “was not personally convinced that the Red Menace was quite as menacing” as other members believed it to be. He was an early advocate of trade with the enemy, the Soviet Union. He and other members of the Trilateral Commission traveled to Havana in 2001 and spent all night meeting with Fidel Castro. He admits that his rebellious daughter Abby is a Marxist and an “ardent admirer” of Castro.

Not many conspiracy theorists consider the Mont Pelerin Society an international secret society with sinister motives, but if you think about it, the MPS isn’t much different than the Council on Foreign Relations.

David’s mother commissioned a Mexican painter, Diego Rivera, to create a mural for the entrance lobby of the RCA Building, a mural with an unmistakable Marxist theme of class struggle and capitalist oppression, and a portrait of Lenin. (The mural was so controversial that the Rockefellers had it destroyed; Rivera produced a second copy, which now hangs in the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City)*.

Yet Rockefeller’s one-worldism was doomed to fail from the beginning. As he himself points out, members of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission engaged in too much in-fighting (over Vietnam, the Middle East, economic policy, etc.) to dominate the G7 governments. George Gilder, who grew up with the Rockefellers, made this clear to me. David Rockefeller, like many businessmen, is more a “pragmatic” middle-of-the-roader than a die-hard.ideologue of any sort. Rockefeller plays both sides with equal acumen. On the positive side, Rockefeller lobbied hard for the Kennedy tax cuts in 1962, and later worked to convince the Kennedy administration that the Alliance for Progress should emphasize “private enterprise and investment” in Latin America, rather than simply support socialistic dictators because they opposed communism. “We urged governments throughout the hemisphere to remove foreign exchange controls, tame inflation and budgetary deficits, and remove the network of other controls which restricts enterprise and sustain local, high-cost monopolies,” he writes. His tutor Hayek would be pleased. Rockefeller denounced the Marxist president of Chile, Salvador Allende, and applauded the “pro-market” reforms of his successor General Pinochet (“despite my own abhorrence of the excesses commit- ted”). When chairman of the Council of the Americas, Rockefeller issued a report supporting “lowering trade barriers, opening investment to foreigners, privatizing state-run and controlled enterprises, and stimulating entrepreneurial activity.” Milton Friedman couldn’t have said it better. “No one should feel guilty about making money, nor about taking prudent risks.” Ayn Rand didn’t say that, David Rockefeller did.

There’s much to applaud in the youngest grandchild of John D. He ably defends his grandfather’s drive to make a “cheaper, better, and more reliable supply of petroleum,” his deep religious faith, and his philanthropic projects such as the University of Chicago and the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research. David R. could have lived the· life of Riley. Instead he enlisted in World War II as an intelligence officer in Europe. He was not a gifted student, but after the war decided to earn a Ph.D. in economics at the University of Chicago. He could have chosen a career in government, or philanthropy, like his brothers, but decided to work in private business. (He turned down Nixon’s offer to be secretary of the treasury.) He could have gone to work in a chauffeured limousine, but took the Lexington Avenue subway for his first twelve years at Chase Manhattan Bank. He regrets traveling too much (he’s visited 103 nations) and not spending enough time with his wife and six children.

As a financial advisor and money manager, I have to admire Rockefeller’s risk-management skills. He took chances investing in supermarkets in Latin America, lending money to Argentina, and helping build the Embarcadero Center in San Francisco and the Twin Towers in New York. Some paid off, some didn’t.

In short, Rockefeller is a very complex man, a pro-market businessman, a big-government Republican~ You won’t find any mention in his Memoirs of the Cato Institute, the Manhattan Institute, or the Mont Pelerin Society.

If Rockefeller was as powerful as his right-wing detractors say he is, why do Bill Gates and Warren Buffett lead the world’s biggest moneymakers, rather than David Rockefeller, who barely makes the Billionaires Club in the Forbes 400 Richest People in America list? If the Rockefellers can manipulate governments and banks at

If Rockefeller can manipulate the world from the 56th floor of the GE Building, why couldn’t he prevent the terrorist demolition of the Twin Towers, known informally in the city as “Nelson” and “David”?


will, why did Rockefeller’s dad, John D. Jr., lose $110 million building the Rockefeller Center during the Great Depression? If the Rockefellers can easily avoid taxes through “secret” trusts, why was David Rockefeller complaining about 90% tax rates in the late 1940s? His father’s trust paid him $1 million a year, but he was left with only $150,000 to live on.

More to the point, if Rockefeller and his secret cabal can manipulate the world from the 56th floor of the GE Building, why couldn’t they prevent the terrorist demolition of the Twin Towers, known informally in the city as uNelson” and “David”? Rockefeller’s dream of aNew World Order was blown to smithereens on Sept. 11, 2001. The lesson is as clear as the Aldrich nose on David’s face: neither the Council on Foreign Relations nor the Trilateralists can control radical Islam, nor the radical militants in this country and around the world. And that’s the real conspiracy, far scarier than any secret combination of wealthy businessmen.

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