Double duty: selling academic credentials to ‘advise’ public policy

We cannot afford ‘advice’ from those paid to promote corporate interests. These duplicitous activities are the cancer that has been undermining sustainable policies, fairness and healthy evolution in the free world. Those who wish to offer counsel as learned experts must recuse themselves from conflicting allegiance and compensation schemes. Full stop. We have known this for centuries. Time to double back and redefine professional standards that clearly separate advisory roles from sales and paid promotion. See: Think Tank scholar or corporate consultant? It depends on the day.

An examination of 75 think tanks found an array of researchers who had simultaneously worked as registered lobbyists, members of corporate boards or outside consultants in litigation and regulatory disputes, with only intermittent disclosure of their dual roles.

With their expertise and authority, think tank scholars offer themselves as independent arbiters, playing a vital role in Washington’s political economy. Their imprimatur helps shape government decisions that can be lucrative to corporations.

But the examination identified dozens of examples of scholars conducting research at think tanks while corporations were paying them to help shape government policy. Many think tanks also readily confer “nonresident scholar” status on lobbyists, former government officials and others who earn their primary living working for private clients, with few restrictions on such outside work.

This problem is epidemic and bi-partisan.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, explains how some think tanks engage in “thinly disguised lobbying” to influence lawmakers. Here is a direct video link.

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