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Merry Christmas To Doug Bandow
It's a dark, drear Christmas Night here in Connecticut, although it doesn't seem to affect the children. I, however, find my mind wandering to a number of afflicted friends, among whom is definitely Doug Bandow, who has just lost his syndicated column and his post at the libertarian/ immigration enthusiast Cato Institute because he accepted payment from lobbyist Jack Abramoff when he mentioned Abramoff's clients. Doug is a committed Christian and I hope this year's Christmas Eve service brought him solace, as it has done for me.
I've known Doug Bandow for years and will not forget that he was among the very few of my erstwhile Conservative Establishment colleagues who worked to stay in touch with me after the curious episode when all of us who had dared raise the immigration issue (prematurely?) were purged from its institutions in the late 1990s. He never actually admitted to sympathizing with my arguments - so leave his severance alone, Ed Crane! - but he always listened politely.
Maybe some devastating details will emerge that I, in my naive way up here in the Berkshires, am not aware of. But right now I agree with Lew Rockwell: it's inconceivable to those of us who know him that money would persuade Doug to take a position that he didn't believe in. I certainly think he would accept money for advocating a position he did believe in: how else does the policy advocacy game work? But what we are looking at here is, not a conflict of interest, but a convergence of interest - a distinction that is apparently now unknown.
Moreover, there a million "impure" reasons, from invitations to the Bush White House, to the desire to impress women, that cause journalists to take the positions they do. In the end, the only thing that really matters is: are their arguments credible?
Lew reports that some Catomite has harrumphed its "scholarship is not for sale". I am somewhat contrained by my gratitude to Cato for hosting a talk I gave for my (immigration-free) education book. But this is ridiculous. When I was at Forbes, I stopped accepting Cato's work in any area on faith because I realized so much of their work on immigration was, frankly, outright lies. (For an example, read this to see how I exposed Catomite Stuart Anderson deliberately misquoting Harvard's George Borjas in 1995. But Anderson was never disciplined.)
And, for that matter, I distinctly remember Ed Crane and Stephen Moore openly saying as they left the Hoover immigration debate in which we had all participated a year or so later that they had to break away to call on potential funders in Silicon Valley, who certainly expected arguments for more H1-b indentured servants.
This isn't shocking - but it is politics, not "scholarship. " Maybe the problem is that Doug should have offered Ed Crane a cut.
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