The Real/Continuity Club for Growth
Who amongst us doesn't like to quote Brendan Behan's old line that the first issue on any Irish organisational agenda is the split? This global wisdom came to mind as we got around to reading the other news from last Friday's papers and in particular the tragedy, as reported in the New York Times, that has befallen the low tax jihadi at the Club for Growth. This group (not, as Daily Howler warns, to be confused with the Hair Club for Men) has been very influential in promoting Dubya's vision of free tax cuts but inevitably, success has bred personal rivalries and now there is a split.
As neatly as we can sum things up is to note that there appears to be one group centered around the Wall Street Journal op-ed page having at least some doubts about Dubya's steady progress towards fiscal doom, given his complete lack of spending restraint, and another group ready to follow Dubya over the fiscal (and GWoT) cliff:
Mr. [Stephen] Moore, along with some prominent club members including Arthur B. Laffer [note for Irish readers -- hero of Pat Cox], a board member, along with Mallory Factor, a businessman, started a similar group, the Free Enterprise Fund. Three others on the previous five-member board - Thomas L. Rhodes, a former partner in Goldman Sachs and president of National Review; Richard Gilder, a fund manager; and Jackson T. Stephens, of the Arkansas banking dynasty - remained ... Mr. Moore's opponents in the organization accused him of being a sloppy manager. They complained that he made caustic comments to the news media about President Bush and others, irking other board members.
The name of the breakaway group brings us to Free Stater's handy annotated summary of an online guide from the Atlas Economic Research Foundation to setting up a right-leaning think tank, and the "Free Enterprise Fund" comes close to breaking one of the rules:
In all that you do, make it difficult for the opposition to tear you down. If you put the word ‘freedom’ in you name, for example, you will be making it easier for your opposition to stigmatize you as ‘ideological" or more specifically, "right-wing."
But don't weep for the Fund, because as Paul Krugman explained (also in last Friday's NYT) having a policy institute is a pretty lucrative business these days:
Today's food industry would never make that kind of mistake [1970s tobacco companies]. In public, the industry's companies proclaim themselves good guys, committed to healthier eating. Meanwhile, they outsource the campaigns against medical researchers and the dissemination of crude anti-anti-obesity propaganda to industry-financed advocacy groups like the Center for Consumer Freedom.
Who wouldn't jump at the opportunity to prepare policy briefings passionately presenting the case of one's most recent donor? So best of luck to Free Stater at the launch of (his?) own institute, the Dublin Institute for Culture and Knowledge. All that's needed now is a policy "menu" to be sent to well-heeled contributors. Perhaps a policy brief on how requiring a landline phone company to maintain emergency call capability is really a gross intrusion on market freedoms?