The Blogiston Post

Politics, money, and war.

Sunday, April 6


We're about to enter the wonderful world of think tanks. There are a lot of them out there. Right now, the ones bpost is interested in are those affecting our current public policy. We could just jump right in and start throwing names around which would be a sure way to miss the details. The details are people and their opinions: The Inner Circle of the Bush administration. Think Anne Perry.

So before we start connecting the dots of current public policy, a brief description of the kinds of dots out there is needed.

In addition to our elected officials, who come from a wide range of experience, there are three types of groups who influence public policy and opinion.

1. Think tanks - product development

Think tanks develop policy position papers known as reports or white papers. White papers are provided as "advice" to those in a position to influence policy. Forums and conferences are often used as the basis for contributing to a white paper in development.

Think tanks are comprised of directors, advisors, fellows or scholars, and members. The people affiliated with think tanks may receive salaries, consulting, speaking, and writing fees. As pundits, they become a valuable marketing tool for a think tank. Think tanks are non-profit though don't let that fool you as they are often very well funded (in the millions) and staff is well paid.

2. Ad hoc committees - marketing and sales

Ad hoc committees are formed thru common interest in a specific policy position. They tend to be based on a short-term commitment. They market an individual policy position to the public thru speaking engagements, published books, editorials, letters and articles. Membership on an ad hoc committee tends to be a low or unpaid position. They may or may not include current elected officials.

3. Corporate and special interest groups - venture capitalists

Corporate and special interest groups provide both of the above with experts and financial support. Drawn from their board of directors or advisory councils, the experts influence policy positions based on profit or self-interest for their group.

The revolving door

Elected and appointed government officials often circulate in and out of these three groups depending on who is in the White House. While they may serve in a government capacity during one administration, once unemployed they circulate back into the private circuit of either the non-profit or for-profit groups. Bpost is well aware this generalization is not true of all elected officials. However, it certainly is a consistent pattern for a good number of those currently serving in and influencing the current White House administration.

This pattern creates a revolving door between private special interests and publicly held offices. This revolving door has the capacity for immense conflict of interest.

Defense Policy Board member Richard Perle, Vice President Richard Cheney, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld are all perfect examples of people who have, over the last three decades, continually passed thru the revolving door of all three groups while in and out of public office.

What about We, the People?

One word: VOTE.


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