Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Call to Conference

See the ad on page A11 of the February 27, 2008, of the New York Times national edition for a gallery of 18 scraggly, squinty-eyed, puffy-faced men, all of whom will be attending the International Conference on Climate Change, March 2-4, 2008 in New York City. (OK, 17. John Stossel left his make-up on.)

I wonder how the event will go. The conference theme is "Global Warming: Truth or Swindle?" That sorta limits the discussion, wouldn't you say?.

And what will these guys will do for fun during their free time? Toss recyclables into the Hudson?

What follows is a annotated list of the 50 co-sponsoring organizations as listed in the ad. (And catch the guy at the bottom of the page with a bullhorn. Oh, yeah, we're quaking in our booties. Conference attendees, of course, will completely miss the irony of this visual metaphor.)

Maybe they should have met in Kivalina, Alaska.

[Please note: All regular text is straight from the horses' mouths, i.e., cut-and-pasted from the groups' websites. (You'll find my occasional comments in italics. I've placed certain words in bold print.) ]

Alternate Solutions Institute. First free market think tank of Pakistan, is a registered,non-profit, non-political, non-governmental, educational and research organization. Its mission is to promote a limited responsible government in Pakistan under the rule of law protecting life, liberty, and property of all of its individual citizens without any discrimination.

Americans for Prosperity. An organization of grassroots leaders who engage citizens in the name of limited government and free markets on the local, state and federal levels

Americans for Tax Reform. Founded by Grover Norquist. (All you need to know.)

Asociacion de Consumidores Libres. Non-profit organization created to defend the right of consumers to free choice.

Association for Liberal Thinking. A Turkish group. Click here for a viewpoint of American environmentalism.

Business & Media Institute. ( Click on "About BMI" and here's the first thing you'll find. “Finally there is an organized effort to put an end to the embarrassing media bias against the free market – and we can thank the folks at BMI for it. From oil price reality checks to the underreported success of the most recent tax cuts, Business & Media Institute gets it done.” This from the lovely lips of our very Vicki McKenna, the host of “Upfront" on WIBA radio. )

Carbon Sense Coalition. Voluntary group of people concerned about the extent to which carbon is wrongly vilified in Western societies, particularly in government, the media, and in business circles. (Talk about specialization.)

Cascade Policy Institute. Founded in 1991, a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research and educational organization that focuses on state and local issues in Oregon. Cascade’s mission is to develop and promote public policy alternatives that foster individual liberty, personal responsibility and economic opportunity. (In other words, feeling good about being selfish.)

Cathay Institute for Public Affairs. An independent, nonprofit and non-governmental research and educational institution. CIPA aims to protect the freedom of the individuals in China, to promote China’s democratic transition, and to help establish constitutional democracy in China.

Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise. An educational foundation for individual liberty, free markets, property rights, and limited government.

Center for the Dissemination of Economic Knowledge. Founded in 1984 by 40 individuals who followed Sir Antony Fisher's vision and guidance. CEDICE is a non -partisan, non-profit, private association dedicated to, research, its dissemination and the promotion of philosophical, economic, political and social thinking that focuses on individual initiative and activities conducive to better understanding of the free market system and free and responsible societies.

Center of the American Experiment. Nonpartisan, tax-exempt, public policy and educational institution that brings conservative and free market ideas to bear on the hardest problems facing Minnesota and the nation. (Hey, neighbors, how do you define "hardest"?)

Centro de Innovacion y Desarrollo Humano.

Centro de Investigaciones de Instituciones y Mercados de Argentina.

Citizen Alliance for Responsible Energy. A 501 (c)(3) organization devoted to educating the public about the need to guarantee our access to the affordable energy that drives our nation forward. (With oil, of course.)

Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow. (Its) mission is to enhance the fruitfulness of the earth and all of its inhabitants. (Hey, man, it's the 60s all over again ! See this website for an education in doublespeak.)

Competitive Enterprise Institute. Non-profit public policy organization dedicated to advancing the principles of free enterprise and limited government. We believe that individuals are best helped not by government intervention, but by making their own choices in a free marketplace. (OK, now we're back on message.)

Congress of Racial Equality. (If you do a search for "global warming" on CORE's website, you'll get no hits. However, try Googling "Roy Innis" +"global warming". Is this guy on his own here?)

Discovery Institute. Discovers and promotes ideas in the common sense tradition of representative government, the free market and individual liberty.

Doctors for Disaster Preparedness. Promotes homeland defense and prudent preparedness for disasters of all kinds, including war or terrorism. Its annual meeting brings together America's foremost authorities on strategic and civil defense as well as prominent scientists speaking on real threats or manufactured scares. Recent topics: global warming, ozone "depletion," radiation hazards and radiation hormesis.

Economic Thinking. Its mission is to inspire students to explore the dynamics of a market economy through understanding the central role of economic freedom, property rights, and the rule of law in promoting progress and prosperity in America and around the world. (Code red!!)

European Center for Economic Growth. An independent economic research institute, focusing its activities on research, macroeconomic and sectoral analyses and forecasts, policy advice and the dissemination of its research output through conferences and publications.

Freedom Foundation of Minnesota. Independent, non-profit educational and research organization that develops and actively advocates the principles of individual freedom, personal responsibility, economic freedom, and limited government. (Minnesota: new hotbed of conservatism -- or just folks who hate winter and have nothing better to do?)

Free Enterprise Action Fund. First mutual fund dedicated to providing both financial and pro-free enterprise ideological returns to investors.

Free Market Foundation. Founded in 1972, a 501(c)(3) non profit organization dedicated to protecting freedoms and strengthening families in Texas and nationwide. We stand for First Amendment freedoms, less government, and solid family values. Associated with Dr. James Dobson's Focus on the Family.

Frontiers of Freedom Institute. Educational institute (or think tank) whose mission is to promote conservative public policy based on the principles of individual freedom, peace through strength, limited government, free enterprise, and traditional American values as found in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. (Everything Rush tells them to do, in other words.)

Fundacion Atlas 1853.

Hayek Institute. Founded in 1993 to commemorate the work of Nobel Laureate Friedrich August von Hayek, and to promote the ideas of the Austrian School of Economics. As a private and independent academic research institution it is modeled predominantly after Stanford University's Hoover Institute, the IEA in London, and the ICER in Turin.

Idea Channel. Comprehensive listing of online resources pertaining to Milton Friedman. (Seems the most likely candidate.)

Independent Institute. (Its mission is to) transcend the all-too-common politicization and superficiality of public policy research and debate, redefine the debate over public issues, and foster new and effective directions for government reform. (Makes complete sense to me!)

Institute of Public Affairs. An independent, non-profit public policy think tank, dedicated to preserving and strengthening the foundations of economic and political freedom. We believe in the free market of ideas, the free flow of capital, a limited and efficient government, the rule of law, and representative democracy. (This summary definitely begs the question: represented by whom?)

Institut fur Unternehmerische Freiheit. Germany's think-tank for free market economy.

Instituto de Libre Empresa. Nonprofits that promotes and defend the free enterprise system. Based in Peru.

Instituto Liberdade. Major purpose is to foster the research,creation and dissemination of educational and cultural assets displaying the advantages to all individuals of an organized society, based on the principles of individual rights, of limited and representative government, of respect to private property rights, contracts and to the free initiative. (The summary goes on to say that the groups supports that ominous "rule of law" thing.)

International Climate Science Coalition. An association of concerned individuals who wish to ensure that the public is given complete, accurate and unbiased information about the science of climate change. (Appears to be based in New Zealand.)

International Policy Network. (I had to dig, but I found this gem in their "Sustainable Development" section.) IPN’s vision of sustainable development is based on eliminating poverty and promoting progress to achieve both environmental and human wellbeing. IPN facilitates the Sustainable Development Network (SDN), a coalition of individuals and non-governmental organizations who believe that institutions such as property rights, contracts, the rule law (sic), open markets, open trade and transparent accountable government are the best way to achieve these goals.

Istituto Bruno Leoni. (From "Pro-American Italian think tank whose mission is to study, promote, and defend market ideals and free exchange." (From his online resume.) Steven J. Milloy is the founder and publisher of and ; an investment adviser to the Free Enterprise Action Fund ; and a columnist for .

Liberty Institute. Independent think tank dedicated to empowering the people by harnessing the power of the market. We seek to uphold the four institutional pillars of a free society: Individual Rights, Rule of Law, Limited Government and Free Market. (Better known as the Four Horsemen of the Apolcalypse.)

Lion Rock Institute. (I'm not going to download the translation software, so here Wikipedia's take.) "Public policy think tank advocating free market solutions for Hong Kong's policy challenges. It was founded in 2004." (A great name, if nothing else. Think of the play-on-word possibilities.)

John Locke Foundation. Group of North Carolinians in 1990 created the John Locke Foundation as an independent, nonprofit think tank that would work “for truth, for freedom, and for the future of North Carolina.” (And, if pushed, the American Way!)

George C. Marshall Institute. (Cue the sound of alarm bells ringing.) The Institute's accurate and impartial analyses are designed to help policy makers distinguish between opinion and scientific fact so that decisions on public policy issues can be based on solid, factual information, rather than opinion or unproven hypotheses.

Minimal Government Institute. Your search - "Minimal Government Institute" - did not match any documents. (Oooooo, super-secret, baby!)

National Center for Policy Analysis. Nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research organization, established in 1983. The NCPA's goal is to develop and promote private alternatives to government regulation and control, solving problems by relying on the strength of the competitive, entrepreneurial private sector. Based in Dallas. (Hmm, another one of those myopic "business model" groups, it seems. Let's see, whom shall we model ourselves after today? Enron? Countryside Financial? Circuit City?)

New Zealand Business Roundtable. Organisation comprising primarily chief executives of major business firms committed to contributing to the development of sound policies that reflect overall national interests. It is founded on the belief that a healthy, dynamic business sector and open and competitive markets are fundamental to the achievement of a prosperous economy and fair society. (For those of you keeping score, it's now New Zealand 2, Minnesota 2.)

Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine. Non-profit research institute established in 1980 to conduct basic and applied research in subjects immediately applicable to increasing the quality, quantity, and length of human life. Research in the Institute's laboratories includes work in protein biochemistry, diagnostic medicine, nutrition, preventive medicine, and aging. The Institute also carries out work on the improvement of basic education and emergency preparedness. (Somewhat far afield, don't you think.? Perhaps for IOSM, emergency preparedness = squishing global warming.)

Pacific Research Institute. Mission is to champion freedom, opportunity, and personal responsibility for all individuals by advancing free-market policy solutions.

Science and Environmental Policy Project. Founded in 1990 by atmospheric physicist S. Fred Singer on the premise that sound, credible science must form the basis for health and environmental decisions that affect millions of people and cost tens of billions of dollars every year. (I feel an O'Jays song coming on.)

Science and Public Policy Institute. 501(c)(3) organization devoted to advancing scientific and policy debate in the public health arena.

Sovereignty International. As our regular readers know, we experienced a very hard systems crash. We are now installing new equipment, and sorting our content from our backup. It will be a few days before we get up and running again. We hope you will understand, and check back soon to see our progress. (Sorry, I can't wait that long.)

Nice mix of folks, don't you think?

To register for the conference, click
here. Hurry, attendance is limited to 500 people. Since you didn't register before February 15th, you'll now have to pay $720 to be a "full delegate". (Didn't see any indication that the conference is "sold out", so maybe they'll take walk-ins.)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Just Showing My Age (Again)

I just caught a promo for The Moment of Truth, a Fox TV contribution to the continuing “reality show” craze, this one using a lie-detector as its centerpiece.

“Would you cheat on your wife if you knew you wouldn’t get caught?” the announcer asks with a dramatic flourish.

Think about it. He’s being asked this question on TV in front of millions of viewers. And his wife is probably is sitting there just off to the side of the flashily lit-up stage, with the camera ready to focus on her look of mock outrage. It doesn’t matter what the doofus says. Whether he’s strayed in the past or strays in the future, he’ll be forever caught right after the taping of this show is concluded.

As H. L. Mencken (1886-1950) posited many years ago, "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public."

According to news reports, 23.2 million viewers watched the first episode of The Moment of Truth on Wednesday, January 23rd, making it the most-watched series debut in more than a year. Among young viewers, it was the top-rated series debut in five years.

Of course what do I know? I’m tethered to the past. My favorite TV show remains The Honeymooners. (Second and third places go to Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Phil Silvers Show – a.k.a. You’ll Never Get Rich – all of which debuted in September 1955. At that time, just under two months before my 6th birthday, there was no TV in the Nelson household -- and wouldn't be for another year. I'm actually old enough to remember listening to The Lone Ranger on the radio.)

Got Quirks?

Last Tuesday, I participated in a panel discussion for a management class at the UW Madison School of Library and Information Studies. For that reason, I gave a little more attention to how I looked while dressing. I chose the most conservative items from my already decidedly conservative wardrobe: dark gray pants, a blue-and-white-striped button-down shirt, and a navy crewneck sweater.

Once I put on the sweater, I immediately noticed all these little flecks of white.

No, not dandruff!

I started to pick them off one by one until I realized that a lint roller would do the job much more quickly. Fifteen minutes later, when I checked myself in the mirror one last time, it seemed as though all those flecks had found their way back. Actually, it wasn’t more than a few I missed on my shoulder.

Each of the three presenters was given ten minutes to provide a general overview as to what we do as a director of our respective libraries. I went first. During the second presentation, I happened to notice a small dark spot, certainly not visible for more than four feet, on the edge of my left sleeve. It resembled a speck of dried gravy.

What the…! I silently bemoaned.

I pretended to scratch myself, very discretely, in order to remove the offending blot. Why I suddenly became so concerned about something this insignificant is best left to psychiatrists to explain.

Shortly after the second presentation, I noticed that the person who had just finished speaking was picking at the sleeve of his navy crewneck, as if removing an embarrassing infestation of lint.

I guess we all have our foibles. In fact, some of us even share the same ones when we sit side by side.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Where Do I Fit In?

With my retirement just seven months away, advertisers are ready to have their way with me. In fact, with 37,000,000 American over the age of 65 and another 30,000,000 projected to reach this milestone within the next ten years, researchers continue to find new ways to slice and dice the senior marketplace. Once again, baby boomers are on the cutting edge of something, even though some of us are doing all we can, including plastic surgery, to hang onto our youth.

We’re special in other ways, too.

Here’s what Blaine Branchik, an associate professor of marketing at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut, has to say about us. (Quoted in “Six Decades at the Center of Attention and Counting”, The New York Times, 1/6/2008.)

“Seniors, particularly baby boomers, each believe they belong to a market segment made up of exactly one person. Many believe the only thing they have in common is that they are all so unique that they have nothing in common.”

It seems as though some of us took way too many drugs back in the 60s and 70s. How else to explain such delusions?

On the other hand, maybe we’re not as conformist as consultants would like to lead marketers to believe. According to the article cited above, Age Wave, a consulting firm which brazenly promotes itself as “the nation’s foremost thought-leader on population aging and its profound business, social, and cultural implications”, has divvied up “post-retirement” consumers into four categories.

Ageless Explorers.” Rich retirees who respond to images of silver-haired scuba-divers reinventing themselves in their waning years.

Comfortably Contents”. Also wealthy, but more attracted to scenes of fishermen, friendly dogs, and rocking chairs. They want to spend their final years free from the responsibilities of work, social obligations and worrying about anything else.

(Are you laughing yet? Do you get the feeling that Age Wave conducted its research on Mars?)

“Live for Todays”. Wish they could relax, but didn’t save much, so their financial anxieties make them easy targets for Costa Rican retirement communities and thrifty insurance plans.

Sick and Tireds”. Basically ready to die, attracted to anything that makes the waiting less painful, particularly if it costs less than $19.95. (All sarcasm aside, this link provides some useful information that puts this 2002 reserach announcement into perspective, providing the percentage of people in each group, average household income, and average net worth.)

(Still, I wish I were making some of this stuff up.)

Sounds like the retirement is a case of the haves and have-nots, both financially and psychologically. I suspect gray areas don’t exist in the marketing world. (And based on the latest batch of Super Bowls ads, not much reasoned thinking, either.)

My 87-year-old mother, whom marketers probably don’t care about anyway, doesn’t fit any of the above categories. I’d call her “comfortably content”, though she’s certainly not wealthy, has never fished a day in her life, and hasn’t owned a dog since she was a girl growing up in Springfield, Massachusetts. And she prefers recliners to rockers.

For that matter, I don’t see any place for me in Age Wave’s view of retirement. And that’s just fine with me, especially if it means fewer calls from telemarketers. (But I’m not keeping my fingers crossed on that one.)