Doug Bandow's "Lapse of Judgment"

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Newshounds already know that longtime libertarian journalist Doug Bandow has been suspended by Copley News Service and has resigned from the Cato Institute since last week's revelation that he had, in the Wash Post's summary, "admitted accepting money from [on-trial lobbyist Jack] Abramoff for writing as many as 24 op-ed articles favorable to some of Abramoff's clients." The payments were not disclosed in any of Bandow's many columns–or to his former employers at Cato.

A spokesman for Copley said, "We want to make sure we have all the facts before we take final action. But it had never been our policy to distribute work paid for by third parties whose role is not disclosed by the columnist." And Cato's communications director said, "Doug acknowledges it was a serious lapse in judgment. This is a think tank that has a lot of integrity, and we are very zealous guardians of the reputation of this think tank. . . . We are secure in the knowledge that our other scholars have not been doing this."

Business Week cracked the story in a piece called "Op-Eds for Sale." They also discovered that Institute for Policy Innovation Social Security wonk Peter Ferrara had been paid by Abramoff in a similar undisclosed fashion. Ferrara–and the head of IPI–maintain there's nothing wrong with the practice.

Over the years, Bandow has written short analyses and occasional feature-length stories for Reason. He mostly wrote about foreign policy for us and he has assured me via personal email that none of his work for us was funded or suggested by Abramoff.

NEXT: Some Questions About Eavesdropping

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  1. It’s all well and good that you have that personal assurance, but as reader and admirer of Reason, I hope to hear that Mr. Bandow will not be writing for again after such an egregious breach of trust.

  2. I’m surprised by this — saw him speak a couple times before and met him briefly and he seemed like a nice guy — and a guy who never had much influence, rarely on TV or well known unlike a shill like Armstrong — for me if anything more proof Abramoff was taking the Indians for a ride rather than Bandow influencing policy — now more than ever anytime we cite some worthless Cato Institute study to liberals they’ll bring up — they are just republican shills routine and cease any thought we might have provoked — not that I’ve cited a Cato study in some years as they are nearly invisible and entirely ineffective for all the money they raise…

  3. spurrs-

    That’s an excellent point. I’ve respected the ideas coming out of Cato. But finding out how compromised at least one of their writers is, it will make it more difficult to cite them as credible authorities.

    Yes, I know, there is undoubtedly much good work coming out of the place, stuff that has not been compromised. The thing is, trust takes a long time to earn but very little time to lose.

  4. thoreau,
    You can always go read Tech Central Station.

  5. I’m glad none of Bandow’s articles for Reason were paid for by Abramoff, I’m curious if Reason or its staffers plan to make any editorial statement about this.

  6. CATO still has some good articles, and you don’t even have to be a libertarian to say it. Also, there is nothing wrong with writing position papers for a salary. Presumably the best position papers, paid or otherwise, are ones where the author actually believes in what he’s writing otherwise.

    What is clearly a big no-no is writing a position paper for two masters at once, in this case Copley News and Abramov. No question, a “serious lapse of judgment.” Also, probably a violation of contract…

  7. mac-

    What I’m more concerned about is the credibility of their research. I want to be able to say to my friends “Cato has put out a study showing that…” and know that the people who wrote the study are serious scholars who strive for intellectual rigor and honesty.

  8. I don’t see how this scandal implicates Cato one iota. Bandow took the money in his capacity as an individual syndicated columnist, not as a Cato fellow (or whatever position he had there). Cato did not take the money to fund studies written by Bandow, huge difference. This scandal should not call into question the credibility of the Cato Institute whatsoever. Will it? Unfortunately yes.

  9. What I’m more concerned about is the credibility of their research. I want to be able to say to my friends “Cato has put out a study showing that…” and know that the people who wrote the study are serious scholars who strive for intellectual rigor and honesty.

    I don’t know how an organization like Cato can keep something like this from happening absolutely. It seems to me like law enforcement tryin’ to prevent fraud. You can punish people that do it as an example to those who would, but that’s about it. If Cato had learned of this and done nothing, that would be one thing. …but that isn’t the case here.

    Cato found out about it and dealt with it in what seems to be a good faith, efficient and effective manner. You can tell your friends that Cato doesn’t tolerate this sort of thing.

  10. A real shame. I neve followed Bandow’s writings very much, but he was a familiar name. It’s kind of like finding out a casual acquaintance ran out on his wife and Downs’ Syndrome baby.

  11. Fair point, Ken.

  12. A ha!!!

    It’s now clear to me why Gillespie/Welch/Walker/Sullum et al have been such cheerleaders for both the Bush admin. and the GOP agenda all these months/years….

    Thanks for the heads up, Gillespie. But the overall independence of your publication obviates the need for the Bandow disclaimer.

    All the previous commenters notwithstanding, as they sit around like ombudsmen on stage at the Kennedy school.

  13. I’m waiting for the first wise guy to suggest that death row inmate Corey Maye hired Jack Abramoff.

    I just hope I’m not it.

  14. Thoreau,

    I’m not sure whether it was discussed here or not, but Virginia Postrel, Daniel Drezner, and some others had an interesting series of posts regarding the quality of think tank research. The RJ Rummel-Eric Gartzke feud started the debate (which interestingly enough Bandow actually wrote about for Reason), but I found the subsequent conversation regarding think tanks in general to be far more interesting. Here is Postrel’s original post, in which she argues think tanks will generally produce poor research.

  15. Example I ran across today of how the obviousness of a think tank’s bias can work against it:

    The Court of First Instance in Luxembourg was unmoved by the pleas from the International Intellectual Property Institute, the Institute for Policy Innovation and the Progress & Freedom Foundation. In fact, the court demeaned the groups, saying that “they are in reality mere ?think tanks? whose objects include, in particular, the promotion of strong intellectual property rights in the information technology field”.

  16. What I’m more concerned about is the credibility of their research. I want to be able to say to my friends “Cato has put out a study showing that…” and know that the people who wrote the study are serious scholars who strive for intellectual rigor and honesty.

    Well, there’s that, sure, but the opinion work would be even more susceptible to compromise because it is subjective. Remember T., these are the same people that are telling you that tort suits are breaking the back of US business. And you believe it. But what if their opinion, upon which you rely, was bought and paid for?

    A a little research disclose the bad lobbyist’s Indian tribe and Island clients, but Cato really should give a list of *all* clients who funneled money to Mr. Bandow. I imagine Bandow occasionally wrote about things more relevant to real life than Indian gaming.

  17. Wonder if he wrote about corn syrup…

  18. He’s probably the guy who got T. so excited about elimination of tarriffs. I mean, I am a Libertarian, I generally want tarriffs gone, too. But T. thinks that tarriffless trade is some kind of magic bullet. I wonder how much of T.’s enthiusiasm came from an independent study of the economics of tarriffs, and how much came from Cato and the like.

    The wiki says that Abrahamoff worked for Gabon and Marianas Is. I wonder what they think about tarriffs. I wonder if they managed to buy basically buy T. here, without him even realizing.

  19. btw, I have come out on this bd strongly in favor of getting rid of Social Security, which I take to be one of Cato’s big issues from the banner ad. So maybe I have been as bought as T. It is the kind of thing one should consider when a story like this breaks.

  20. I mean, I think my contact with Cato has been extremely limited over the years, but I don’t know. I don’t know what all I read about Social Security that convinced me so that it is too inefficient. Maybe it was Cato. Or maybe it was authors who relied on Cato. What is the path dependence of my neg op re ss?

  21. . I wonder how much of T.’s enthiusiasm came from an independent study of the economics of tarriffs, and how much came from Cato and the like.

    Nobody needs to study the economics of tariffs to know that it is wrong for you to tell me I can’t deal with another person simply because he happens to live on the wrong side of some arbitrary line. If I tried to stop you from dealing with African-Americans or Jewish people you wouldn’t need an economic study to know that. It is a moral issue, not an economic one.

  22. I don’t think it reflects all that badly on Cato for anyone operating logically.

    It does, however, demonstrate a very good point about the weakness in attacking a New York Times op-ed by screaming “Jayson Blair.”

    Too much political discourse is dependent upon ad hominem lines of reasoning: “he is in big oil’s pocket,” “he’s said all sorts of nice things about Castro.” As always, arguments ought to succeed or fail based on their merits. Remembering that is the first step and making situations like this one less important.

  23. Generally you take an argument seriously if it carves the duck at the joints, which is a literary judgment more than anything.

    Pay for it or not, a hack job has no influence.

  24. My girlfriend works for a PR firm in D.C. She tells me this is SOP.

  25. Gotta say, I’m not terribly surprised.

    Dave W., speaking of the Northern Mariannas, did you know that Ronald Bailey went on Abramoff’s little junket there, then Reason immediately published his piece about how it was a libertarian paradise?

  26. I want to know what Michael Young thinks about this, and about the propaganda efforts our country is paying for in Iraq.

    As a journalist writing about political issues in the Middle East, I think he’d bring a great insider’s perspective to this issue.

  27. He’s probably the guy who got T. so excited about elimination of tarriffs. I mean, I am a Libertarian, I generally want tarriffs gone, too. But T. thinks that tarriffless trade is some kind of magic bullet. I wonder how much of T.’s enthiusiasm came from an independent study of the economics of tarriffs, and how much came from Cato and the like.

    Econ 101 at USC, coupled with reading the Economist every week.

    And when have I ever treated it as a magic bullet? If I get adamant about a subject, it’s usually not because I think the idea is a magic bullet that will solve all of our problems. Rather, it’s because I think the issue is at least clear-cut. It might not solve all of our problems, but I’m convinced that the benefits will be real, and the drawbacks will be minimal. I’m selective about the issues where I go on like that.

    Notice how little I’ve said on this forum about taxes (aside from a handful of specific taxes), libertarian approaches to pollution, gun control (aside from correcting some points about safety mechanisms), and various other issues.

    So maybe I have been as bought as T. It is the kind of thing one should consider when a story like this breaks.

    I’m “bought”?

    joe-

    I don’t recall Bailey’s piece about the Northern Marianna Islands. Do you have a link?

  28. speaking of the Northern Mariannas, did you know that Ronald Bailey went on Abramoff’s little junket there, then Reason immediately published his piece about how it was a libertarian paradise?

    Glad to see you’re parsing the facts so carefully, Joe. Ron’s article on the Marianas appeared in American Enterprise, not Reason. (Indeed, I don’t think he worked here at the time.) If you read the piece, you’ll see that it discloses that the trip was paid for by the Marianas government, so the Bandow problem doesn’t apply.

  29. And where diid your economics professors (including textbook writers) and Economist get their info. Is it Cato? Do you know? Could you know?

    btw, my saying that I may be as bought as you are doesn’t neccessarily mean that either of us is bought. It just means that I am willing to consider the possibility more seriously than you are.

    Final note on tarriffs: we generally agree. However, when one trading partner is allowed to do things that would be illegal in other partner’s nation (eg, slavery, extreme pollution) , I think the whole tarriffs question gets much more complicated in ways that reading Cato probably never suggests to you or your economics professor or your economics textbook writer or your supportive Cato-reading peers. More complicated both economically *and* morally. I’d like to see tarriffs go away, too, but first I want to know how many lashes are customary for minor employee infractions in Gabon. Read too much Cato and one could forget about issues like this too easily.

  30. It’s not like Cato is the only place publishing data on the effects of tariffs on trade.

    It’s been a long time since I took Econ 101, but I recall the book citing examples throughout history in support of points on price controls.

    And the Economist usually combines specific, contemporary examples with the general results of economic theory. So there’s something very concrete and contemporary (to make it relevant) combined with a broader intellectual picture (to make sure the analysis is grounded).

  31. Follow up question for Reason mag ed to ask Bandow:

    were any of your Reason pieces suggested or funded or otherwise compensated by lobbyists other than Abrahamoff? I am not so sure that Abrahamoff got an “exclusive” with Bandow because those arrangements tend to be more expensive for the lobbyist. Nicer when they can share the freight, as it were.

  32. T.,
    I guess will we have a better idea of the independence of The Economist’s opinion if somebody involved with the magazine gets involved in a civil lawsuit and implicates them in the discovery process. From what I can tell, that is the howcum of us knowing about Bandow today. Til then, we just have to wonder. (or until the magazine takes proactive measure privately to ensure its integrity, like the editor of Reason is sort of doing halfheatedly in this entry.)

    O discovery, like a glorious glassblower, you create transparency where none existed before! That is so useful for us because it helps us to learn.

  33. There’s no problem in journalism that can’t be solved by suing a media outlet…

  34. There’s no problem in journalism that can’t be solved by suing a media outlet…

  35. This is extremely disappointing news. I am hopeful that CATO or other libertarians do not suffer by association. I would expect a statement from CATO distancing itself from Bandow. Even with a statement, we can expect a series of disparaging commentaries from foes of smaller government.

  36. Haven’t read the WaPo article but why does anyone care about funding sources for Op-Eds? The Op-Ed surely expresses someone’s opinion, doesn’t it? Does it matter if the writer is just being paid to add their writerly-touch to it?

    Why should Cato have to distance itself? If they felt Bandow’s op-eds were too far “off-message” for them they would have canned him back when they were written. Apparently Cato had no objection to their content and didn’t feel that he was hurting anything by them. That being the case then, why should it matter if he cashed an extra check or two on the side, just for doing what he’s already doing anyway? It seems to me the main reason WHY a guy like Bandow could collect money for these op-eds is BECAUSE he is going to write things that are predictably enough on-message.

    Which is precisely why places like Cato have people like Doug Bandow around in the first place. So I’m scratching my head here. They’re sacking him for doing exactly what prepaid Washington policy mouthpieces are supposed to do.

    If we’re going to start holding all these DC thinktanks and policy advocates to the same standards of rigor, objectivity and intellectual honesty as real scientists are supposed to have then we might as well go ahead and shut the whole city down right now. Not that I’d mind.

  37. There’s no problem in journalism that can’t be solved by suing a media outlet…

    It would be more encouraging if the outrage came from people who trusted Cato. The people who were duped are the people who read Cato. They are the ones what should be angry at Bandow (and probably Cato as well).

  38. If we’re going to start holding all these DC thinktanks and policy advocates to the same standards of rigor, objectivity and intellectual honesty as real scientists are supposed to have then we might as well go ahead and shut the whole city down right now. Not that I’d mind.

    There is a simpler solution. The think tanks et al. should have clear, written, easily publically available (eg, on the Net) policies that specify what kinds of compensation they accept (and won’t accept) and identifies all of the compensators by name and/or company name and/or gov’t name. No hiding behind lobbyists either: if lobby money comes in, disclose the source of that, too. Then the think tank can do business as you suggest and yet nobody who cares will be misled.

    I think Reason should lead the way here, demonstrating for the world that Galtian leadership spirit that leaders use to lead.

  39. independent worm,

    I don’t think the concern is that he wasn’t objective, or even that he accepted money, but rather that he did not disclose the payments he was accepting.

  40. Yes, Jesse, it appeared in American Enterprise, and was linked to from the Reason site. But it is interesting to find out that you decided to hire the guy even after he pulled such a stunt.

    And if you don’t realize it, “the Bandow problem” isn’t that he failed to disclose that he was a whore; it’s that he was a whore – so no, Bailey’s disclosure that his trip was paid for by an Abramoff client doesn’t get him off the hook.

  41. “But it is interesting to find out that you decided to hire the guy even after he pulled such a stunt.”

    Exactly what stunt did he pull?

  42. Dave W.

    I don’t remember the last time I cited anything done by Cato, but you’re right, it very well could be that some journalists I pay attention to were influenced by something someone at Cato was paid by someone else to write. …Indeed, for all I know, Microsoft and the King of Swaziland approve half of everything I read.

    …That’s why I read everything I read and watch everything I watch with a critical eye; that’s why I listen to everything I listen to with a a critical ear. Moreover, I subject the things I believe to criticism from people from across the political spectrum. I do it at dinner parties and at work, and I do it right here at Hit & Run just about every day.

    I make sure I’m persuadable and open to criticism. When I do that, I think I’m more or less immune to the kind of media bias you’re describing, certainly long term.

  43. Peter Ferarra is Bandow’s confrere in this scandal.

    A Google search, similar to the link Nick Provides, on “Ferarra.”

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&safe=off&rls=GGLD%2CGGLD%3A2005-06%2CGGLD%3Aen&q=site%3Areason.com+%22ferrara%22&btnG=Search

  44. Why are taking money and writing op-ed pieces when one is convinced of the evidence, regardless of the payment, mutually exclusive?

    Surely if Bailey or the guy from IPI had written things that were wrong on the facts, a substantive attack on their factual bases as incomplete or distorted would be more convincing than attacks on their entrepreneurial spirits. Otherwise, this just looks like throwin’ mud.

    Bandow’s failure to disclose to Cato and Copley that he was being paid by Abramoff are troubling, but everybody else seems pretty clean here.

    And while we’re at it, at least whores earn an honest living, which is more than one can say for freeloading welfare queens that “progressives” scream bloody murder for when “entitlements” get slashed.

  45. Adam,

    The next time you want a variance to expand your house, and your neighbors want the Board to deny you the permit, I’m going to accept a paid vacation from your neighbors, let them put me up in a hotel, and pay for my meals.

    But don’t worry, when I recommend that the Board deny you the variance, it will really, really be based on my beliefs about the facts.

    (Actually, I’m not. If somebody in the government came within a mile of doing something like that, he’s be out on his ass before the coffee finished brewing.)

  46. “The next time you want a variance to expand your house, and your neighbors want the Board to deny you the permit, I’m going to accept a paid vacation from your neighbors, let them put me up in a hotel, and pay for my meals.”

    What a horrible analogy.

    Bandow didn’t disclose. That was the problem. Bailey did. Hence there’s no problem.

    If someone is getting paid the way Bandow did to write an op-ed and there is full disclosure you could choose to take the article with a grain of salt or ignore it completely.

    Your board analogy is very shitty because 1) there’s no disclosure; 2) You have no option when it comes to your variance. They make the decision and there’s nothing you could do about it.

  47. OK, emme, change the “you” in my analogy from the applicant to the Board, and postulate that I inform the Board that I took the vacation, but I double super swear that my recommendation is based on my good faith opinion.

    If you’re a Board member, are you cool with that, or do you try to get me fired?

  48. “OK, emme, change the “you” in my analogy from the applicant to the Board, and postulate that I inform the Board that I took the vacation, but I double super swear that my recommendation is based on my good faith opinion.”

    The analogy is still woefully inadequate. The disclosure should be to the applicant and to the Board. This is analogous to Bandow making a disclosure to his readers and to whatever media outlet the journalist is writing in. Him not doing this is the problem. Not “gettin paid” in and of itself.

    Again, we run into a very different problem when it comes to the Board analogy. In order to get your variance you must get approval by the Board. Unlike the op-ed situation, you can’t ignore the Board or take its decision with a grain of salt after disclosure to the applicant has been made. You have to abide by it or suffer the consequences. Therefore, any potential bias is a lot more disturbing in that situation.

    If Bandow discloses how he’s getting paid I could scrap the article. I can’t do the same with the Board’s decision.

  49. I don’t think you’ve got it yet, emme. I’m postulating disclosure to the Board (just as Bailey disclosed that Abramoff’s client paid for his junket). They have the choice to hear me or ignore me, to grant or deny the permit (just a reader has the choice to ignore Bailey). It’s a perfect analogy – I’m being bribed to say what the briber wants me to say, but I disclose the payment to the decision makers who read my opinions.

    So I ask again, if you’re a Board member, is disclosure enough? Or is it wrong for me to take gifts from people I’m writing about?

  50. Forgive me. I’m trying to avoid a who’s on first situation here.

    Who is the briber?

    Who is the bribed?

  51. emme, let me start over.

    Suppose I am a staffer who writes the Town’s official recommendations to the Zoning Board. Adam files for a variance so he can build an addition onto his house. His neighbors don’t like the project.

    The neighbors send me on an all-expenses paid trip to the South Pacific. The airfare, the hotel, the meals, and lots of activities, including a presentation on why the proposed addition is a bad plan.

    When I come back, I hand the Board a recommendation that the variance be denied, based on arguments that look a great deal like those of the unhappy neighbors. I disclose to the Board that the neighbors sent me on the trip, but I swear Scout’s Honor that such considerations played no part at all in my recommendation.

    As a Board member, what do you think?

  52. As a Board member, what do you think?

    I’m glad you let me know the neighbors compensated you, and factor that in when I review your recommendation, just as I would cast a wary eye on a candy bar review written by a Hershey employee.

  53. Ok, the potential for bias is obviously there in both situations. I’m not disagreeing with you there. But we should only be concerned about the Board hypo. Not the journalist issue in my opinion.

    If your hypo is supposed to show that the paying of Bandow or Bailey could alter a decision (ordinance v. opinion in article) I would say no shit Sherlock. It is a very good possibility. But ultimately, only by reading the article and checking the facts can we make that determination.

    But knowing that there is a potential for bias in the op-ed is not a problem when everything is disclosed. You could just ignore it. The people who are screwed by your hypothetical variance (who were not informed of your trip BTW) don’t have that option. They’re stuck with the decision. Therefore, the Board should rightfully fire you given that your decision leaves the other residents with little or no recourse. Even the slightest trace of impropriety should warrant that they get fired b/c of the fact that the other residents (unlike the readers in the op-ed example) on top of not being informed of your trip, cannot really do anything about your decision. The reader has the option to ignore Bandow’s article, or to read somebody else’s article on the same issue. The property owner can’t say “this guy is in their pocket….let’s check out a diferent Board”

    B/c of the property owner’s position (lack of choices) any hint of impropriety should be eliminated by the Board. That’s not necessarilly the right action to take for the employer of a journalist who has disclosed all the necessary information.

  54. “I’m postulating disclosure to the Board (just as Bailey disclosed that Abramoff’s client paid for his junket). They have the choice to hear me or ignore me, to grant or deny the permit (just a reader has the choice to ignore Bailey). ”

    The reader is more analogous to the other property owners who will be affected by your variance request.

  55. emme —

    The issue is, that if Abramov is subsidizing you to hold a particular position, then I will discount your article based on this. You are basically a paid advocate, at this point, not a disinterested observer.

    If you want money for holding positions, I’d much prefer that money to come via grant proposals and other standard academic models, than from walking-around money from a shady political fixer.

  56. So, is the problem here that he was paid at all or that he was paid and did not disclose it?

    Should Cato disclose from whence it funding comes? I don’t know, I’m more irked about the lack of disclosure than I am the act of getting paid. It seems we are all “whored” out in one sense or another…

  57. Indeed, Cato does disclose the source of its support…

    Cato Sponsors

  58. dead_elvis quotes:

    “The Court of First Instance in Luxembourg was unmoved by the pleas from the International Intellectual Property Institute, the Institute for Policy Innovation and the Progress & Freedom Foundation. In fact, the court demeaned the groups, saying that “they are in reality mere ?think tanks? whose objects include, in particular, the promotion of strong intellectual property rights in the information technology field”.”

    Interestingly, the “Institute for Policy Innovation” employed one of the people implicated in taking Abramoff money. The judge’s critique is sadly wrong, though; the criticism is not that they are a think-tank, but partisan shills using the veneer of the academic study expected of a true think-tank to cover a policy-results-for-hire operation.

  59. “I don’t know how an organization like Cato can keep something like this from happening absolutely. It seems to me like law enforcement tryin’ to prevent fraud. You can punish people that do it as an example to those who would, but that’s about it. If Cato had learned of this and done nothing, that would be one thing. …but that isn’t the case here. Cato found out about it and dealt with it in what seems to be a good faith, efficient and effective manner. You can tell your friends that Cato doesn’t tolerate this sort of thing.” – Ken Schultz

    At last! Something Ken Schultz and I agree on! But then he goes and tells a WHOPPER:

    “Moreover, I subject the things I believe to criticism from people from across the political spectrum. I do it at dinner parties and at work, and I do it right here at Hit & Run just about every day. I make sure I’m persuadable and open to criticism. When I do that, I think I’m more or less immune to the kind of media bias you’re describing, certainly long term.” – Ken Schultz

    BTW, Ken, I answered your last call on the “Oh-KAY, Oh-KAY… No Torture” thread. Here’s the link, so you don’t get lost:

    https://www.reason.com/hitandrun/2005/12/ohkay_ohkay_no.shtml#comments

  60. Have I missed it, or has Ferrara’s former association with Cato gone unmentioned in this discussion? It is disturbing that Cato has no express policy against this practice. It has been addressed by similar organizations.

    As for Bandow, shouldn’t we have known that someone who wrote the book, “Beyond Good Intentions: A Biblical View of Politics” would be prone to moral lapses?

  61. The article in BusinessWeek that started this whole thing, upon which all subsequent articles and Paul Krugman’s commentary are based, omitted important statements and resulted in a complete misrepresentation. All subsequent who have written on this topic are guilty of passing on misrepresentation without bothering to fact-check. You can view IPI’s and Ferrara’s statements at http://www.ipi.org

  62. It is disturbing that Cato has no express policy against this practice.

    Interesting point. I didn’t catch this anywhere but I will take your word for it. What I find interesting is this: when the opportunity to profit involved, would-be profiteers will inevitably comb the written regulations and exploit their gaps. It goes on and on and on and on.

    Ban all the behaviors with all the thousands of written pages you can concoct. No organization will ever be as motivated in coming up with a comprehensive list of banned behaviors as those with a profit motive will be in finding gaps and omissions in their applicability. It’s a universal law.

  63. So, is the problem here that he was paid at all or that he was paid and did not disclose it?

    Should Cato disclose from whence it funding comes? I don’t know, I’m more irked about the lack of disclosure than I am the act of getting paid. It seems we are all “whored” out in one sense or another…

    When these disclosures are made, the market decides how much schwag is too much on an individual by individual basis. Even with Bailey’s disclosure, at least one member of the market, we’ll call him Joe, thought that the article was unworthy to be linked from Reason. If Reason had articles with enuf of those kind of disclosures, Joe would leave probably.

    i am not not as bothered by the Bailey article (with the disclosure) as Joe seems to be. However, I have come on this board many times recently to say that Ron Bailey doesn’t engage serious intellectual questions seriously. Instead he finds some whacko, some walking talking strawman and takes them apart. That is a different kind of intellectual cheat than a paid junket. However, you combine the bad things about Bailey and a cumulative picture emerges. The Mauritania article is not a a slight negative in the Dave W. intellectuokarma count for Ron. Enuf Reason writers with bad intellectuoKarma and eventually I follow Joe out the door.

    T. is unbothered by any of this because he has faith in the scientist (“Bailey”) and is incredulous that a scientists thought process could ever be corrupted by small, mean things like money and trips. Presumably, the scientist would figure out any ulterior motives superquik and account for the ulterior motives using his super science brain. T. trusts.

    However, if Joe goes and Jane goes and I go and Mona goes, then the people left will sense something is wrong, that something bad is happening to the Reason hnr intellectuodemographics. Then they will leave, too, leaving T. all alone and wondering why people just can’t see what a crime and sin it is that the planet’s slave labor pool is not being utilized at full capacity *prolly cause greedy politicians want a porky cut of the slavetastic funds, future T. thinks to no one there*

  64. both of the first two paragraphs in previous Dave W. post were quotes from another reply. Both these para’s should ahve been italicized, not just the first

  65. emme, Rich Ard, I am not appointing you to any boards, because you are waaaaaaaayyyyyyy too lax when it comes to conflicts of interest. A board that operated according to your standards would have zero credibility with the public, which would interfere with its ability to do its job.

    Just as Bandow and Bailey’s stunts have intereferred with their ability to be convincing commenters.

  66. T. is unbothered by any of this because he has faith in the scientist (“Bailey”) and is incredulous that a scientists thought process could ever be corrupted by small, mean things like money and trips. Presumably, the scientist would figure out any ulterior motives superquik and account for the ulterior motives using his super science brain. T. trusts.

    Actually, Dave W., I rarely comment on Ron Bailey’s articles. Partly because I’m not terribly interested in the alleged revolution that will remake the human race, and partly because I see no point in arguing about global warming on this forum.

    How that translates into a deep trust in Ron Bailey is beyond me.

  67. joe, you sure have a lot of nerve questioning peoples integrity. don’t you essentially steal your paycheck daily from the taxpaying public, surfin the net all day, propagandizing the blogs on the taxpayers dime? or do you clock out like an ethical person would? does your boss know how much of the day you spend fucking off? do the taxpayers? or do you hide it?

  68. There is a simpler solution. The think tanks et al. should have clear, written, easily publically available (eg, on the Net) policies that specify what kinds of compensation they accept (and won’t accept) and identifies all of the compensators by name and/or company name and/or gov’t name. No hiding behind lobbyists either: if lobby money comes in, disclose the source of that, too. Then the think tank can do business as you suggest and yet nobody who cares will be misled.

    As someone who does fundraising for an organization not dissimilar to Cato, I can tell you that virtually all of the money comes from individuals and foundations who are in broad agreement with the ideas espoused by Cato or my organization. Sometimes someone disagrees with a stance taken, but Cato, I suspect, and my organization have self-imposed limits on the amount of money we’ll accept from any one source to avoid conflict-of-interest/dependency issues. I’ve heard various figures quoted, all of them below 8 percent, of the amount of money that Cato receives from ALL corporations. Someone corporate execs give as individuals, but that’s often not because they’re advancing corporate interests, but precisely because they personally are in agreement with Cato generally.

  69. Gee, Mapes, I guess the fact that I take breaks from my work means that it really is ok to pass on talking points from someone who gives you gifts as your own considered opinion.

  70. I’ve heard various figures quoted, all of them below 8 percent, of the amount of money that Cato receives from ALL corporations.

    See, what Reason should do is a Table with Company names (not lobbying group names — I mean company names!) and amounts received, to the nearest dollar or so. Then I don’t need to worry about these second hand assurances. Then I will have the basic facts, which are the tools I prefer to use to make my own credibility determinations. Because the donors are in broad agreement with Reason, they won’t mind at all. It would be like free advertising just to be in the table! I don’t see why Reason wouldn’t do this, at least now that I have come up with such a full, elegant solution.

    AFAIK, the two media outlets who do a reasonably good job of disclosing contributions are PBS and NPR. Sad that the public sector is kicking private sector derriere on this particular ish. I knew those organs had to be good for something.

  71. Dave W.-

    Maybe you should sue Reason.

  72. never said it was ok joe. just saying your method of funding your opinion writing isn’t particularly virtuous either.

  73. Is Mapes suggesting that people who work for the government are incapable of intergrity?

    Would joe’s comments be more persuasive if they were given on break from some private company?

  74. “emme, Rich Ard, I am not appointing you to any boards, because you are waaaaaaaayyyyyyy too lax when it comes to conflicts of interest. A board that operated according to your standards would have zero credibility with the public, which would interfere with its ability to do its job.”

    You obviously did not read my last post. Either that or you have your head way up your @#$.

  75. “B/c of the property owner’s position (lack of choices) any hint of impropriety should be eliminated by the Board. ”

    That’s what I wrote.

    “Either that or you have your head way up your @#$.”

    That was a tad harsh. My bad.

  76. “Is Mapes suggesting that people who work for the government are incapable of intergrity?”

    No. Are you suggesting all government employees take as many breaks as joe?

    “Would joe’s comments be more persuasive if they were given on break from some private company?”

    joe’s the one who suggested corruption made one’s arguments unconvincing.

  77. the characterization of joe as a hardworking public servant occasionally posting on his coffee break is amusing though

  78. Your apparent attempt to stifle joe’s comments seems distasteful to me–you make me wish I was a statist.

  79. your annoyance at a taxpayer complaining about being forced to fund joe’s opinion writing makes your wish come true

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