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1917, years after the major oil companies had already established control of the industry through integrated operations which were politely ignored by the state’s law enforcement agencies of the period. One interesting control was imposed on the oil industry in Texas on Aug. 31, 1931, when Gov. Ross S. Sterling instituted legal prorationing. Runaway pumping was driving the price of oil to impossibly low levels and the oil companies couldn’t agree among themselves on who would cut down production, so they got the state to step in. From that time on a permit was necessary to pump oil and the oil industry had a mechanism to insure that prices and production were maintained at a profitable level. The petroleum industry rarely welcomes government intervention in its affairs, however. As one observer of the industry has put it, “Industry leaders understand the power and the potential of the modern state as an instrument for public control or private control. Their governing principle is that all planning for the future of petroleum and competitive resources must be private, without regulation or restriction upon the industry’s normal activities. ‘If the dead hand of government should descend upon us,’ predicted the president of the Continental Oil Company in presenting to the American Petroleum Institute a report on the long-term availability of oil, ‘we would find our production retarded and it would be the beginning of the end of the oil industry as we know it.’ “7 The phrase “dead hand” is an interesting one. If you translate it into Latin legalese, you get mortmain, which is “a term applied to denote the alienation \(or tenements to any corporation, sole or aggregate, ecclesiastical or temporal,” according to Black’s Law Dictionary. There used to be laws against corporations acquiring property in mortmain, under the control of a dead hand, because it was thought that property ought not to accrue that way. We must have become more civilized since those days. Now we just let it accrue, call it success, and wish we could somehow control it. THE HAND of government certainly seems dead, at least as far as control of the corporate structure is concerned. Referring to the 100 largest corporations in this country, Richard Goodwin recently wrote, “These institutions and the economic relationships which sustain them rule the American economy; their increasing ascendancy has been the most important phenomenon of post World War II America. The power of its repositories has increased through all the tumults and divisions of politics: during liberal administrations and conservative ones, under strong political leadership and weak, while McCarthyism preoccupied the country, during the glory days of the New Left and in the era of Watergate. These are the interests the institutions and the way in which they conduct business which the political structure often serves, sometimes modifies or ‘reforms,’ and never attacks.” 8 Who is Goodwin describing? It sounds like an apt description of the Texas Research League’s membership. It is through lobbyists and organizations like the TRL that the modern corporation exercises its domination of the political as well as the economic arena. Perhaps it doesn’t do any good to spend too much time cursing the corporate structure. A former dean of the U.T. Law School noted, in reference to the corporations which were allotted the New World as their corporate pie, that “American territory was assigned to some of these corporate organizations. It is from their character and operation that the people of the United States formed their ideas about the possibilities of the corporation as a legal entity. They saw that it enjoyed most of the legal privileges of the individual person, but escaped many of his liabilities. No one could shoot the legal entity that injured him. He could not even have the pleasure of giving a corporate organization a cauliflower ear, because the corporation had no ear.” 9 It is downright macabre that a corporation, legally a “person,” enjoys more rights than most members of the human race who are supposedly protected by the laws of the land. But let’s try to keep our eye on the ball. Not get distracted by side issues. The Texas Research League is into information. The image it tries to project, which it projects quite successfully, is an image of objective and non-partisan research. Can the TRL truly be either of these when it has such a clearly identifiable class composition? Non-partisan in the TRL’s use of that term must mean that it is neither Republican nor Democrat, but embraces both. So what? The Texas Research League is a partisan of wealth and of maintaining its members’ power in the economic and political arenas. Information, one might argue, is objective. Value-free, it is what it is. But the Texas Research League has the power to select the information it wishes to use, to fit this information into a preconceived context. It can make the data say whatever the league wants said. By controlling much of the information which our elected representatives use as the basis for their decisons, the Texas Research League has insinuated itself into the very heart of the democratic process. The League claims that it is entirely public-spirited motivation which promts its actions, but a former chairman of the board of Standard Oil of Indiana suggests another reason why the oil industry, at least, is so fond of research. “Why did our industry which 30 years ago employed less than 40 research workers .. . expand this activity until today it employs several thousand full-time research workers and would like to hire as many more over the next few years? I should like to be able to tell you that the oil industry’s research was due to a broad, public-spirited interest in the welfare of the country. Frankness, however, compels me to let you in on a little secret. . . . The real reason why our industry has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in research and development during the past quarter century is that we thought we could make a profit by doing so.” 10 Well, it’s no little secret that information is a valuable commodity. Access to information and development of accurate information are two underpinnings of any democratic state. It is the responsibility of such a state to disseminate accurate information to its citizens. Thus, presur ably, a piece of legislation like House Bill 6, which is intended to guarantee citizens access to information in the hands of government. Thus, unfortunately, the Texas Research League. Without stretching the point too far, it’s worth noting certain similarities between the Texas Research League and the Central Intelligence Agency. Both are dedicated to controlling the flow of information in ways which maintain particular power relationships. If Victor Marchetti and John D. Marks weren’t talking about the CIA in their recent book, you could easily believe it was the Texas Research League: “There exists in our nation today a powerful and dangerous secret cult the cult of intelligence . . . Its patrons and protectors are the highest officials of the federal government. Its membership, extending far beyond government circles, reaches into the power centers of industry, commerce, finance and labor. . . . The cult of intelligence is a secret fraternity of the American political aristocracy.” 11 August 9, 1974 15