Friday, July 20, 2007

you are forced to pay for lobbying yourself for stuff you never wanted in the first place

One common inherently corrupt practice of government is giving money to advocacy groups which they then use to lobby the same government for more laws. Today's example is the unfolding scandal of the taxpayer funded UNC-Charlotte study deliberately designed to skew the public debate on light rail in Charlotte.

According to the linked article...

UNCC Chancellor Phil Dubois, who has been public in his support for light rail, said Monday that critics should stop attacking the university's cooperation with the chamber.

"If they have a problem with the study, they should criticize the study -- as opposed to how it was generated," Dubois said. "There isn't an e-mail that suggests we tried to influence the outcome of the study."

Earth to Dubois: how the study was generated *is* a fundamental criticism of the study itself. Organizations that have a stake in the result are, to put it kindly, highly unlikely to produce unbiased results.

From the article, "(UNCC official Dennis) Rash wrote that those polled could be asked if they believe light rail plays an important role in economic development. Potential voters could then be told about new tax dollars generated from development along the light-rail line, and asked whether that would change their opinions."

This is known in the industry as a "push poll." Such polls are by their very nature anti-scientific and considered utterly disreputable by anyone with a brain. Considering that there is no way for a respondent to verify a one sentence claim made in such a context - and in this case, one can easily verify that it is a lie, or at best a deliberately incomplete truth - any opinion measured by such practices is purely manufactured.

Setting aside for a moment the inherent corruption of buying a desired result with taxpayer money to influence public policy, everyone involved in this study at UNCC still needs to be fired immediately. It is shameful that we are paying the salaries of college professors and administrators who are so eager to teach their students such bad science.

If that's not enough, the cynicism of Dubois is revealed in this quote from an email to Rash:

"Why not just have Edd announce it has an initiative of the Institute 'in the public interest.' We have an obligation to serve as a forum for the debate of important public issues, yada, yada, yada."

Yeah that's the ticket. Creating fake science to tell lies using taxpayer money is sooooo much better than all that boring honest public debate of the issues.


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