Thursday, January 31, 2019

How can ASAN manage autism public policy when they can't manage themselves?

In the late 1930's, as baseball legend Babe Ruth's career as a player was winding down, he expressed a desire to manage the New York Yankees.  The team's owner Jacob Rupert replied to the carousing and heavy drinking Ruth, "how can you manage a baseball team when you can't manage yourself?"

This statement rings true for the premiere neurodiversity organization The Autistic Self Advocacy Network as as can be seen in their latest publicly available 2017 990 form spent more than $175,000 than the revenue they took in that year.

In previous blog posts, Ive written that despite the fact Ari Ne'eman, their former CEO, repeatedly criticized the high salaries of the top executives at Autism Speaks, he more than doubled his own salary in a four year period from $40,000 a year to nearly $90,000 a year.  His salary increase from 2011 to 2012 of $40,000 to $65,000, a nearly 62% annual increase was nearly double the increase of the organization's revenue.

Because of the organization's deficit spending, it appears they have begun to economize by paying their new CEO Julia Bascom a salary of slightly less than $70,000, a substantial decrease from Ari Ne'eman's 2015 salary of nearly $90,000 a year.

As can also be seen on the form, their net assets decreased from nearly $350,000 at the beginning of 2017 to just over $170,000 at the end of the year, or a slightly lower amount than the red ink they produced in 2017.  If their expenses versus revenue in 2018 was comparable to the previous year, they have no assets left, but owe some creditors money.

Is this an organization you'd trust to manage your business, financial affairs, public policy recommendations, etc?  A common sense answer would certainly be no.  However, if you're a prominent candidate for President of the United States or the federal government the answer which defies rationality is yes.  When Jeb Bush ran for president in 2016, he consulted this organization.  When Hillary Clinton became the democratic party's nominee in the same year, she also consulted this organization for policy advice and recommendations.  As I've written in a previous blog post Ms. Clinton made a variety of dubious autism policy recommendations after winning the democratic party's nomination in 2016.  These autism talking points were largely based on a conference call she had with ASAN.

I've also written on occasion that the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee has appointed several neurodiversity, anti treatment breakthrough autistics to make policy recommendations to the federal government while appointing zero pro-treatment anti-neurodiversity autistics, despite the fact that two of them expressed a desire to serve and were turned down.  Three of them, Ari Ne'eman, Scott Robertson, and Samantha Crane have had prominent posts within the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network.

ASAN's current autistic representative Samantha Crane, has stated the wandering behaviors of severely autistic children, often resulting in death from accidental drownings and other reasons,are merely problematized by other people, yet are perfectly reasonable.  Their current president Julia Bascom apparently believes the reason severely intellectually disabled autistic persons can't write a blog post as well as she can is that they had bad parents who sheltered and infantalized them.  Amy Lutz, the mother of a severely autistic individual with a tested IQ of 40 has invited Ms. Bascom to come to her home and teach her son how to write a blog post.  So far, Bascom has not accepted.

These are people whom I neither would want to manage my business, finances, or autism policy, though I know those in power disagree. 

But will ASAN go bankrupt in a year or two?  Is all hope lost for this organization which repeatedly engages in deficit spending?  Not necessarily.  As can also seen in their 2017 form they have a benefactor with deep pockets.  The Foundation for an Open Society donated $180,000 to them in 2017.  Though I have not linked to their 2016 form, anyone who cares to peruse it will see they donated $130,000 to them in that year.  This is an organization started by well-known billionaire George Soros.  Perhaps Mr. Soros will bail them out.  The fact that a powerful billionaire supports this philosophy may be the reason the ND movement has made such significant strides in obtaining power within the government as well as private sector organizations such as autism speaks.  This does not bode well for those of us who are part of the #autisticdarkweb.  Not to mention the fact that there are about 20 of us and maybe 5,000 of them.  But the #theautisticdarkweb will continue crusading against this movement we detest so much. 

I don't know if ASAN will spend themselves out of existence, but just in case, I hope that Sam Crane had a good bankruptcy course when she attended Harvard Law School.  I suspect ASAN may need her to do some pro bono work in that regard.

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