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Thursday, January 27, 2005

With Friends Like These

Nathan Newman
and Atrios point to today's NY Times analysis of Chile's privatization scheme. It's a very interesting article and one that will come as a huge surprise to anyone who was listening to NPR's "The World" with Lisa Mullins on Monday afternoon and heard the glowing report on Chile's program which then segued into an interview with an analyst/scholor Matt Moore from the "non-partisan" National Center For Policy Analysis who proceeded to say that privatization was working wonderfully well in the countries where it's been tried. They provide some excellent lessons to be learned about how to properly privatize our system.

I, like most Americans, am not an expert on social security privatization schemes around the world and were it not for the fact that this is a hot topic on blogs and liberal news sites, I would not know that the benign sounding National Center For Policy Analysis was a group devoted to private sector solutions to everything under the sun. I urge you to check out it's web site, particularly the social security page,linked above. This think tank's spiel is one of the most dishonest I've yet come across in the Right Wing Noise Machine. It goes out of its way to advertise itself as being devoted to debating both sides of the issue and then it proceeds to egregiously propagandize for Republican policies.

Apparently, the leftist socialist NPR (and BBC) didn't bother to investigate what their neutral non-partisan guest has ever written, because he was presented as a neutral policy analyst and his views went completely unchallenged. (He does sound like such a nice boy.)

Here's the link to the program (scroll down to the "Other Models Interview 5:00").

This is the type of thing that's going to kill us if we don't deal with it. This guy sounded completely reasonable. The lead in story about Chile's wonderful privatization scheme sounded completely reasonable. But, it was completely bullshit and it was on NPR, not Limbaugh or Fox. We should scream bloody murder that they would use this obviously agenda driven think tank for "non-partisan" analysis.

We are all agog at the Maggie Gallagher and Armstrong Williams payola scandals. And it is outrageous (but not surprising) that the Republicans have become so greedy that they are dipping into taxpayer funds to propagandize. It's not like they don't have enough millionaire GOP money floating around for just that purpose.

But the idea that these pundits' failure to disclose is the real problem is to swat ineffectually at flies. The real problem is that guys like this Matt Moore routinely fail to disclose that they are working for a Republican Policy Shop and that the so called liberal media is either too stupid or too lazy or too sympathtic to disclose it themselves. All you have to do is google the name of the think tank and you come up with this from the People For The American Way, which should at least make a journalist sit up and do some investigating if nothing else:

National Center for Policy Analysis
12655 North Central Expressway, Suite 720
Dallas, TX 75243-1739

Established: 1983
President/Executive Director: John C. Goodman
Finances: $5,237,217 (total expenditures in 2001)
Employees: 22
Affiliations: NCPA is a member of the State Policy Network, a network of national and local right-wing think tanks, and of townhall.com, a right-wing internet portal created by the Heritage Foundation.
Publications: NCPA sponsors two of its own syndicated columnists: Pete du Pont (Scripps Howard) and Bruce Bartlett (Creators Syndicate). Bartlett's column appears under contract twice a week in the Washington Times and in the Detroit News.

NCPA’s Principal Issues:

# A right wing think tank with programs devoted to privatization in the following issue areas: taxes, Social Security and Medicare, health care, criminal justice, environment, education, and welfare.

# NCPA describes its close working relationship with Congress, saying it “has managed to have more than a dozen studies released by members of Congress – a rare event for a think tank – and frequently members of Congress appear at the NCPA's Capitol Hill briefings for congressional aides.”

# Right-wing foundations funding includes: Bradley, Scaife, Koch, Olin, Earhart, Castle Rock, and JM Foundations

# In the early 90s, NCPA created the Center for Tax Studies. NCPA’s website describes the inspiration for the Center: “Very few think tank studies are released by members of Congress.”

Does that sound non-partisan to anyone? Are these "studies" considered to be non-partisan?

This is happening all over television and radio. Those of us who are sophisticated in these matters know how to peg guys like this Moore based upon his pitch. But if you are average Joe Democrat last Monday afternoon listening on NPR, your trusted source of non-right wing news, you would have no way of knowing that this guy was completely in the tank.

This is our problem folks. This crap is seeping out of the right wing echo chamber and it's infecting people who don't believe in their philosophy. That's the percentage we are losing in these close elections.

I suppose the miracle is that we are able to keep 49% in this environment. It's a testimony to the tenacity and intelligence of busy American liberals that they continue to be able to sort through this mess. But, we have got to start cleaning it up. This bought and paid for right wing media and their dishonest shills are the single most dangerous thing we face going forward.