The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Bad Astronomy, a warmist blog, got its panties in a bunch about the Heartland Institute putting up billboards with the Unabomber's picture on them, saying "I still believe in global warming."

I was not offended, but I did think that Heartland's billboard was more likely to drive away people undecided on global warming than to convince them. OH NOES HITLER WAS A VEGATARIAN!1!! AND LOVED DOGZ!!1

Then I started thinking about public choice theory as applied to political think tanks.

Supposedly, the Heartland Institute is in the business of saving the world.

Heartland may sincerely believe this. But saving the world is basically impossible and does not pay.

For example, Clinton's attempt to institute national health care was thwarted primarily through the efforts of Senator Phil Gramm. Gramm attempted to turn this into a presidential nomination in 1996.

Did conservatives show any gratitude? They did not. Gramm was left with sore feet and a pile of campaign debt.

The Heartland Institute is also in the business of soliciting donations. Now this actually puts money in their pocket. And the advertisement may even be successful at this. Somebody probably drove by, said "Global warming? I hatethose guys! Who put that billboard there? Heartland? Oh yeah, here's a check."

So we would expect think tanks to produce copy that appeals to True Believers, even though there is no need to convert True Believers, and even though the net effect is to make the think tank's favored policies less popular with the public.




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