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November 06, 2004

What is the "Foundation for a Better Life"?

Who are these people and what do they want?

The first I heard of them was last night at the movies. The Foundation bought up half the pre-movie ad time to show uplifting TV spots about "Including Others" and "Helping Others."

The FFBL describes itself as follows:

The Foundation for a Better Life is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization started in 2000. The programs and projects of the Foundation are non-commercial and are solely humanitarian endeavors; the Foundation does not seek nor accept contributions or donations of any kind and is privately funded. The Foundation supports the belief that each individual is entitled to personal dignity and self-respect and that most individuals are willing, when given the opportunity, to take personal responsibility for their actions and well-being. The Foundation also believes that capable people may also benefit from encouragement and reminders from time to time. Generally people who have the opportunity and the ability will make appropriate common sense decisions which will have a positive and uplifting effect on themselves, their community, and their country.

The Foundation claims to be non-religious and non-political. Perhaps I need more moral uplift to combat the cynicism rampant in this day and age, but I suspect there's a catch. The FFLB spots remind me of those free Book of Mormon TV ads from the 1980s.

If anyone knows who's behind this outfit, please leave a comment. If anyone has already written on the subject, please send a link and I'll post it. I'm very curious.

Update: Thanks to readers Wayne and Paperwight of Fairshot.

Paperwight writes:

It's a guy named Phil Anschutz, a conservative Denver oil, internet and media guy. See here. Cursory Google searching and internic domain name registration checks seem to confirm.

See also

Wayne unearthed another hint of a Mormon connection: Gary Dixon is the President of the FFBL and an Honored Brigham Young University alumnus.

Here are some excerpts from the San Diego Indymedia item described in the Portland Alliance article cited by Paperwight (above) Colorado billionaire supporting nationwide propaganda campaign:

Philip Anschutz, who the BBC described as having "a reputation as one of the hungriest of US corporate vultures", is currently using his wealth and power to support a slick ad campaign appearing on 10,000 billboards, in hundreds of movie theaters, and on nearly a thousand TV stations across the country. The Foundation for a Better Life (FBL)—the non-profit entity that officially produces and distributes the ads—has no contact information on its website,, but a series of posts and comments to the portland indymedia open publishing newswire uncovered the connection between Anschutz and FBL.[...]

[Anschutz'] corporate empire includes a majority holding in Qwest Communications and ownership of several sports teams and arenas. Significantly, he also owns the United Artists, Regal and Edwards movie theater chains, where the FBL commercials are being shown. Whether or not FBL is paying for these slots is unknown. According to Outdoor Advertising Association of America, $10,000,000 worth of the cost of the billboard campaign is being donated by OAAA member companies. In other words, it is possible that this advertising blitz is costing FBL and Philip Anschutz very little money out-of-pocket. [...]


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So, Lambert of Corrente tells us that there's a new right-wingnut rag a-coming to DC, financed by right-wingnut billionaire Phil Anschutz, who apparently also likes Focus on the Family and hates fags. Nice. That name sounded familiar, and after some th... [Read More]

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It's a guy named Phil Anschutz, a conservative Denver oil, internet and media guy. See here. Cursory Google searching and internic domain name registration checks seem to confirm.

See also

20 years ago, I visited Delphi in Greece in a tourist bus. On its way down, the driver stopped and took an older woman on the bus. Since there was no seat available, and she obviously was not a tourist, I stood up, and offered her my seat. I could not believe that no else tried to let the old woman sit on such a hazardous mountain road where the bus swayed and bounced. I really considered it safe for goats and herders. I am sure she was going for an appointment to a doctor in the city way below Delphi. If you have ever been there, you will understand what I am talking about.

I don't care who is behind this foundation. We have become such a greedy uncivilized society it's about time someone tells the truth. A Rockefeller (Republican) won the governorship in a once staunch Democratic Arkansas, because he never forgot to write a thank you note. It's time we teach our moronic Americans that 3/4 of the world would pray a thousand thank you prayers if they only had 1% of what we have and strut without shame, while millions are dying of hunger and persecuted by their government.Shame on us.

I saw the commercial ("America the Beautiful - Pass it on.") and the red light went off in my head. Yeah yeah, be proud of your country etc., but why do they need to tell us this? I've been seeing a lot of propaganda pop up lately. Don't get me wrong, I think being a human with all the characteristics listed on the FFBL website would be wonderful, but... you hit the nail on the head regarding the Mormon TV spots of the '80's.

Something isn't right about it, especially the part about the private funding.

Why would this person be interested in spending millions of dollars to advertise it? My gut tells me that something's not right. Thanks for finding the info regarding Philip Anschutz.

Hi Saxy - Are you by any chance the person who emailed me with info on the Islamic court situation in Ontario? I got an email from someone a few weeks ago and deleted it by mistake - but as I recall, the nick they used seems similar to yours. If you were the person I would appreciate it if you would re-send that info. The contact addresses would be very much appreciated. I can be reached at ... thanks

re: the above post for Saxy - if aidan_maconachy@hotmail isn't good ... try ... ty

Nope, it wasn't me, Aidan, but thanks for checking!

God forbid that a rich "conservative" be out doing and encouraging good things and goodness in others! I just can't be! People, get a life...

The following information is kinda scary. Yes the media likes dramatic stories, i.e.- death, tradgedies , corruption, but to have all news be kinder and softer, would be the worst kind of propaganda! The real world has bad things happening in it all the time and to ignore those things and stick your head-in-the-sand or look at the world through rose-colored-glasses, would be dangerous. There is a movement in our country to create a society where the people are to believe that all is well, when it is far from it.
"The Foundation for a Better Life: Good News Section contains a wealth of personal and authentic stories unified by the ideal of promoting values that help people to live a better life. This would make an excellent "default mode" for the news media instead of what we are constantly bombarded with from day to day, and it is also an excellent way to gather and explore patterns in narratives that may help inform our own lives."

I don't think we should complain about something as non-partisan as the ads they run. They are beautiful and remind me a great deal of what used to be shown at the beginning of movies during WW2.

Unless it can be shown that there is some subliminal message being delivered we shouldn't be so critical.

None the less, the ads annoy me with their whiney songs...but if that's my only complaint for the day, I'll consider myself lucky. I wrote to the FFBL, told them that they should use one of their "values" and such as "compassion" and quit playing their obnoxious and cheese-laden ads so many times on the TV channel I watch at night, that way I can have a "better life." They responded to my email with a automatic response about the background of the FFBL. There is no denying the world is full of crap that ignores the real issues and problems of the world. I akin these TV ads and billboards with Thomas Kinkade paintings and "Chicken Soup for the Soul" book series. It is what it is...just some rich guy trying to buy his way into Heaven without having to get his hands dirty. whatever.

The problem is that this organization isn't truly nonpartisan. Although it refuses to explicity get involved in politics, it's a bit disingenous. Those of us who are used to parsing political rhetoric know what's going on when we see something that suggests societal problems are the result of a lack of personal accountability and responsibility, rather than the result of poverty, consumerism, corporate welfare, and neglect of basic working class needs such as living wage and health care. I don't have any argument with the values themselves, obviously; but this is just another attempt to blace the blame for American societal ills, and responsibility for changing them, on the victims of a system designed to encourage the further enrichment of the rich and shrink the social safety net. The very people who have the least to work with.

Where are this guy's stellar values when the sports industry pays lobbyists to ensure that the sports arena staff he employs to mop up spilled $9 beers continue to make well below a living wage?

You have GOT to be kidding me. The very fact that you would attack such a purely wholesome campaign that lauds the likes of Mother Teresa and Ghandi discredits anything else you might say. How much filth and vitriol can one foul website spew?! Shame on you!

Whoever is doing the spots seems to be sharing the secrets of his success. As a former liberal hippie rabble rouser, and now a successfull businessman who helps people every day, I have found my greatest successes come from taking the risk of truly getting to know and understand others, especially the ones I don't agree with or understand. When I do this I find I am frequently wrong, my preconcieved notions are crap. I inspire all you kids who are reading this to open your minds and find out for yourselves what the world is really about. You will be much hapier, and will no longer need to define your life by political ideologies. YOu will also find that you will not need to be afraid of others, because you will be in control of your own life.

i read some pretty sad bitterness in this blog. You are pitiful for putting down the FFBL. They are doing a great thing. stop looking for some hidden evil when i doesnt exist... why dont you just BE happy! change your attitude people!

Wow. This is really funny reading this blog. "This ad Campaign spews forth good values. We must destroy it NOW!" Yes, the guy is rich and wants to "pay it forward" in a manner of speaking. The fact that he wants to remain anonymous instead of pasting his name on everything is a virtue, not a conspiracy. Grow up. There are many millionaires spending their money on pornographic production companies, illegal drugs and activities that destroy human dignity. Pick on them. Sheesh!

I see the Wingnuts are out in force.

It's all so... backwards.

Look, if you want to reduce the number of ads you watch on television, stop watching television. This works whether the ads are for junk food, sex, beer, or morality.

And speaking of using images: simply because someone uses the image of Ghandi, this *does not* mean that that person or the message is now above reproach. Unless you agree with the flag-waving and bible thumping cadre that is trying to justify our latest wars, which pretty much uses the same logic: "this image is sacred; therefore you are horrible if you don't agree with everything it's used to support."

I agree with Miko above, who talks about how these ads blame the victim instead of the system. It's so much easier to blame the poor for their poverty; it keeps them stuck, it helps justify the abuses of the upper classes and corporations.

We can usually agree that these values are worthwhile and that we want to see them. But most of us haven't got the guts to do the kind of real work necessary for making these a normal, natural part of our lives. I can see that even in the responses here; most of us are so caught up in our own sadness, anger, and fear that we couldn't find a nonviolent way out of a wet paper bag.

The question is, do you value the idea of courage, or the act of it? If you value the concept more, then go ahead and keep doing whatever it is you're doing. Watch more television, swallow more lies, and suffer some more. Don't question; if it's in print somewhere, it must be unquestionably true. Especially if it has a picture of someone who did good things in their lives.

If what you value is the act, the living-ness of wisdom, courage, strength, achievement, etc., then your task is to figure out how to add more of that to your life every day. This does mean questioning the sacred; it also means questioning our ideas of what's normal, what's acceptable, and what's just. We each have to define what these concepts mean. We can't afford to let other people tell us what it means to be courageous. Right now, any military recruiter out there will be quite happy to tell you just how courageous you'll be if you sign his form and go fight a [dirty, unjust political] war.

I don't see that as courageous. I signed on that line, once; I recently passed my ten-year anniversary of being in terrible, daily pain because of that choice. Courage, for me, is now getting out of bed in the morning. Courage is *not* being angry and helpless and reactionary. Courage is being determinedly hopeful, generous with my time and small pension, and getting some excercise even when it hurts.

It takes a lot more courage to live gently than it does to say mean words.

Just saw a foundation commercial and googled the foundation. Good stuff here. As soon as the commercial was over, my wife predicted that mormons were somehow involved. Thanks for the info.

Check it: Wagner wrote some magnificent music, and he was a virulently anti-semitic bastard.

So, OK - if I were alive when Wagner was, I probably wouldn't invite him over for schnapps. However, I can still enjoy Tannhaueser.

Many coporate pirates and outright scoundrels who made it big have funded public works, performances, schools etc. For whatever it's worth, it's the Amerikan Way of Life.

I was a child in the 60's so I missed out on a lot of the flower-power stuff - but I remember when people were a little more polite to each other. If the pirate king decides to try to buy a little good karma with some of his swag, I'm going to be one of the last to flame him for doing so.

Cheers all

I don't care either way. The ads aren't very impressive to me, then again I don't need to be reminded how to be a human. although my personall favorite is the one where they include to the handicap kid by strapping him into a trash can on wheels and send him on his way down a hill, what's that kid supposed to do if a wheel pops of or a car comes? bail? ha.. they should of called that one stupidity.. pass it on

or wait better yet the little kid who throws the starfish back into the ocean, and claims he made a difference to it. Like the starfish had any idea it was stranded on a beach. If the damn thing knew that it would'e known enough to stay the hell away from the tide. Damn Pro Life Starfishes

The ads are just tacky, thats my problem with them, maybe not all of them, but the ones I get bombarded with everyday are. I've never seen the ghandi one until I visited their website. Why don't they show that one on AFN?

For those who choose to bash the FFBL campaign, say what you will. But at the end of the day, when you take a moment to consider the messages alone, with no religious, political, or business strings attached, you'll see that this is a good thing. Take it for what it's worth and pay it forward! And if you're still not happy, by all means, please create your own positive and uplifting campaign instead of wasting your time complaining about this one. New ideas and improvement are always welcome. Best of luck!

Don't let CNN be your view of the world. In an effort to fill up a 24 hour news cycle we've managed to equate cynicism with maturity. How crazy is it that we as a nation choose to tune in and listen to bad news for so many hours each day. Why are we so immediately suspect of Foundation for A Better Life. It's nice to have a reminder in a media laden with 90 percent who hurt whom and the latest media darlings that the reality is more what For a Better Life reflects and less what the pundits that grace our television sets would have us believe.

It's a revolution of its own. Simply hard to recognize by those who choose to wallow in the chicken little negative view of the world.

So much positive going on that doesn't make the evening news. Never forget it's in the news because it's news. It's rare, not norm.

I applaud For A Better Life.

I disagree with both Miko and shinypenny.

Why do we put SO much effort into looking for "reproach" in Ghandi, yet snicker and applaud vile pornography?

Why do we assume that people who are poor are all victims, and that the rich must be evil?

Why do we question what is sacred, good, and just, but turn a blind eye to insipid self-absorbed crap?

By defining "good" for ourselves, by presuming that each one is right in her own eyes, we've become a culture that tolerates crudeness but not righteousness, celebrates diversity as long as purity is not involved, and fights for personal freedom to be comfortable yet can't imagine that those who are truly oppressed are glad to risk death to exercise their right to vote.

Yes, there's much corporate greed out there. There's also a welfare mentality that is not resolved via more government handouts (and even those are mostly paid for by... the rich!) [Yes, I've personally experienced, and helped people get past, these issues.]

Yes, those who are promoting better values are themselves imperfect. Please show me the flawless woman or man who could replace them!

You suggest that nobody but we ourselves have the power to define what's better or worse. That means you are only answerable to yourself-- it's a path of no conscience, and leads to societal meltdown.

Gentle reader, grow up. Learn to appreciate what is good, and avoid taking offense. Who knows, you may be the next one to offend somebody.

And perhaps someday more of us will learn the value of being willing to die for what is right. Pain-free living is not the highest goal.

Vishal Mangalwadi summarized things nicely:

* Some believe there is no Truth.
* Some believe everything is Truth.
* Some believe Truth is found in a person.
* Some believe Truth is found in God.
* Some found Truth in God, presumed that by Reason they could know Truth themselves, and then decided that God was unnecessary.

A while back I did some posting under the email address

This email address was hijacked without my knowledge (I haven’t used it for some time) and has been used on-line in an inappropriate fashion. It’s my understanding that the account in question has now been finally closed at my request by hotmail people, however if anyone encounters a post with the above email associated with it, would you please alert me at Thanks.

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