Saturday, February 18, 2012

Are think tanks too political?

Interesting piece about think tanks. Here's a  response from Dylan's friend Steve Hayward.


Amy S. said...

I went to the panel discussing this article! It was very interesting and actually rather political in the clear divide between Heritage and Hudson vs CAP and PPI. Also, many of the panelists took umbrage with the question, "are think tanks too political"...and I agree, I think there are better questions to be asked, such as whether the political nature of think tanks is bad, and if it effects the integrity of their research, etc.

Interestingly, the question of donors got brought up, and whether or not funding going into the organization effects what is being researched and published.

Additionally, the new rules and regulations regarding lobbying activities was also brought up, in that many of people at think tanks who self-identify as intellectuals, academics or policy wonks, would legally fall under the category of lobbyists.

Overall an interesting panel, and yes, Mr. Hayward was there.

TJE said...

Amy, you are a Great American who is making the most of DC!

Dylan Wulderk said...

In spite of the fact that it's Saturday night, I took the time to read these because I got a mention in the post haha.

I agree with one of Hayward's points: everything has become politicized, so no matter what ideas they put forward, think tanks will always be seen as partisan. But I think Troy is right on the whole, and I like that he actually backed up his talk by being a think-tanker who wrote a really objective piece on the politicization of think tanks.

But I do think that putting specific ideological values (such as conservative, free-market ideas of the AEI or the progressive ideas of CAP) is problematic. It ruins credibility in my book. Biases are impossible to eliminate, but if you actually have people from all over the spectrum working on policy ideas, you'll be legitimate in my eyes. Otherwise, you're just feeding your brothers-in-mental-arms more of what they want to hear, and less of what they need to hear. It's the same problem I have with Fox News and MSNBC.

Quote that caught my eye and I couldn't agree with more: "Rather, these institutions are helping politicians avoid the difficult task of pursuing creative policy solutions by giving them more ways to persist in failed courses." I guess that comes hand in hand with the politicization though. Unlike Hayward, I do think it's a bad thing.

So, surprise, Hayward and Dylan have different opinions!