The convocation of economic quack doctory and right-wing advocacy otherwise known as the IEA, which continues to maintain the pretence that it is an “educational charity”, remains on the Zelo Street radar after one of its inmates took a petulant side-swipe at all those who have quite legitimately asked who pays their bills - and salaries.
On any spectrum of think tank transparency, the IEA, along with the rest of the not-really- ideologically-Conservative-honestly alphabet soup, the TPA, CPS and ASI, is bereft of transparency. Donors are assured of confidentiality, for fear that the Rotten Lefties™ might figure out what was driving their alleged “research”. This has not stopped the question being put, but it has clearly got to departing staffer Jamie Whyte.
So it was that he carped “I am leaving the IEA as of 1 Jan 2019. I will miss it. But I won't miss the endless ‘who funds you?’ tweets. They reveal a profound misunderstanding of the kind of people who work at think tanks and what motivates them. And always irrelevant to the issue at hand. So stupid”. Transparency is stupid. War is peace. Ignorance is strength.
Yes, how dare the lower orders get ideas above their station? Next thing you know, the broadcasters will be telling their viewers about that lack of transparency, the routine abuse of the “educational charity” status, and those less than benign policy stances, like abolishing the NHS, gutting the welfare system, hacking away health and safety legislation, and advocating for some seriously dodgy causes.
Quite apart from the IEA’s opposition to plain packaging of cigarettes being funded by Big Tobacco, there has also been, as Peter Jukes has pointed out, the Greenpeace revelation that Channel Islands banks have paid for IEA “research” defending tax havens. They pay for the “research”, and hey presto, they get the result they want, plus plenty of favourable press coverage. It would have been inconvenient, had it come out the other way.
Yet Whyte, another of those clever people who talk loudly in restaurants, refuses to address the issue. When it is suggested that a good way to stop the questioning would be to provide the information, he became highly defensive: “Just do as I say and I'll stop doing something you don't like. How lovely”. What is his problem?
The IEA produces “research” that clearly benefits the interest groups that pay for it. Elsewhere, they employ a known hater of the industry to pontificate on the railways and advocate for more roads, on the shakiest of pretexts. Richard Wellings is also obediently opposing new EU emissions rules for trucks. Poor air quality? No problem for the IEA.
But even though the IEA’s “research” can be easily pulled apart, and with so much of it being bought by interest groups, their propaganda continues to be accepted by many media outlets - and, to their shame, broadcasters. The propaganda from people who quite clearly hold the public - whom they seek to influence - in contempt.
Jamie Whyte has shown the world just what an uncaring shower the IEA really is. In this, he has done the public a huge favour. It’s only a pity the media is past caring.
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