Saturday, December 17, 2005

Liars for hire get picky

An article in today's New York Times caught my eye (Times, Google). It begins with "A senior scholar at the Cato Institute, the respected libertarian research organization, has resigned after revelations that he took payments from the lobbyist Jack Abramoff in exchange for writing columns favoring his client." Isn't this what the Cato Institute, The American Enterprise Institute, and other conservative think tanks do? Peter Ferrara, of the Institute for Policy Innovation, is quoted in the same article as saying that he had also taken money from Mr. Abramoff. It seems that Mr. Ferrara has a more honest view of his profession. "I do that all the time," he is quoted as saying. They all do. The think tanks pay them to write pieces expressing views that favor the supporters of the think tanks. That's what think tanks are all about. This story is not about journalistic ethics. This is "the Madam of the house does not tolerate moonlighting," or, as the Times quotes think tank spokespeople, "at Cato … and at the American Enterprise Institute … rules require scholars to make public all of their affiliations, and there is an expectation that scholars will not embarrass the institution." Apparently, Jack Abramoff is no longer welcome in the company of the Cato Institute's paying customers (who are generally large corporations). It hasn't always been that way.

It's winter break!

The fall semester is pretty much over, which means that I have a bit more time, so I expect to start blogging more. I say this even though I'm not caught up yet. There are still things on my list I should have done weeks ago, but the treadmill is clearly slowing.